Saturday, December 30, 2006

Yeah, My Trunk's Been Broken Into, Too. Bummer, Huh?

From the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser (h/t Amy Welborn):

"Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb's gold crosier shepherd's crook, his pectoral cross, four mitres, a gold antique chrism vessel and other valuable items were stolen Christmas Eve from his parked car, police said."

[Four mitres? Where was he going with four mitres? A bishop birthday party?]

"Spokesman Officer John Young said Lipscomb had parked his black, four-door Mercedes in front of a home on Spring Bank Road about 6:30 p.m."

[Load up your Mercedes with gold and then park it unattended for a couple of hours. Always a sound plan.]

"The Archbishop discovered the theft when he returned to the vehicle about 8 p.m. There was no sign of forced entry."

[OMG- he didn't even lock the car???]

"A black suitcase was also stolen. It contained religious papers and books, gold coins, a gold oil stock, a wool collar with gold pins, lappets, which are headgear adornments, and a pallium."

[So it was the Pallium Pinchers gang! Or somebody really ticked off that his annulment was stalled, maybe.]

[Or maybe the police should be on the lookout for somebody with really cool "headgear adornments."]

"Young did not know the value of the stolen items."

[Pastors all over the diocese, however, are frantically working their calculators.]

"Lipscomb did not return telephone calls seeking comment."

[Hey, would you?]

Friday, December 29, 2006

Meditation

One of the reasons we chose our current parish is it has a perpetual adoration chapel. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there's a small room open off he main part ofhte church where the Sacrament is exposed. You can come in any hour of the day or night and do some spiritual reading or meditate in peace.

Usually.

Unless, of course, Mother of God Man decides to drop in.

He sits at the back of the room, eyes shut, head resting on his hand. Seems perfectly harmeless until all of a sudden you hear him sigh, "Mother of God!"

Then there's a moment's silence. Then, louder this time, "Mother of God!"

Another brief stretch of peace- but don't get your hopes up, because here it comes again in a full-fledged moan:
"MOTHER OF GOOOOODDDDD!!"

I've tried timing his ourtbursts. I think he might be saying the Hail Mary. Apparently "Mother of God" is his favorite part. I suppose I should be grateful he's not wailing the whole prayer aloud. But the guy's a real pain. I'm beginning to think one of the many bumps in my paths to sanctity may be Mother of God Man. I figure every time I suppress the urge to turn around and let him have it- "Yo! MOG-man! Put a sock in it back there!" -- I'm earning anti-Purgatory points.

But I swear one of these days I'm going to smack this guy.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Story

Well, here it is, Christmas Eve. The stockings are hung, the cookies are baked, the spouse has worn the camel suit (long story). All is ready for the celebration of the birth of the Savior. Gather 'round, readers, and Auntie Desperate will tell you a Christmas story.

I know a lot of you found this blog through Ann Coulter. So I'm going to tell you an Ann story.

Some years ago when I was living in NYC and Ann was far from famous, my husband and I gave an annual Christmas party. Ann always came, always with an entourage (mostly hopeful young men), and being Ann, she was always late.

Our Christmas party was always a big production, at least for DIH. There were always at least sixty or seventy people, and I made all the food myself (except the sacred lasanga- my half-Italian husband always made that), and did all the baking. Gingerbread men, butter cookies, lemon squares, cheesecakes, apricot rum tortes, chocolate layer cakes, almond paste laden pastries, all that good stuff. By the time it was all over DIH was pretty tired, and especially she was sick of being in the kitchen.

One year Ann arrived at the party just about the time everyone else was taking off. This took her by surprise I think- hey, it was only one a.m., where was everybody going? -- but she didn't take it personally. She looked around my empty living room and announced, "Well! Bet the kitchen's a real mess! Come on, Sue, let's go wrap things up!"

And with that, the lovely long-limbed Ms Coulter rolled up her sleeves and cleaned up the kitchen.

A couple of years ago we moved to Minneapolis. Not a lot of like-minded people here. But nice ones nevertheless, and as always we gave our Christmas party in our new home.

Most of our guests were liberal Dems. One of them,our next-door neighbor, was a professional LD. He ran a fundraising business for things like organic food coops and the like. Late in the evening he noticed a photo of Ann on a sidetable. It was one of her Christmas cards- a photo of her and Ronald Reagan, with the legend "Peace through strength on earth" scribbled at the bottom.

"Hmph! Ann Coulter! She's a [common expletive deleted.]!" said the man.

DIH tries not to take umbrage any more often than she must but nobody steps on my Ann, and certainly not in my house. "She's a very nice girl!" I retorted. "She always loved our Christmas party too. One year she even cleaned up the kitchen!"

There was silence in the living room.

Then my next-door neighbor spoke again.

"Well," he said, "I'm not going to be outdone by the likes of Ann Coulter!"

And with that, he cleaned up my kitchen.

Merry Christmas. all. God bless us every one.

Friday, December 22, 2006

At last!

Just in case I still have readers out there, DIH has been hopelessly offline for days. Finally things are working again and will post tomorrow. And just in case anyone missed me- you are so sweet!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Do You Hear What I Hear....

THE SCENE: Barack "Next President of the United States" Obama is giving a speech in New Hampshire. In the crowd he spots Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. Maureen has recently written a column that refers to Obama's enormous ears.
Immediately following the speech Obama makes a beeline for Dowd.

As recorded by C-SPAN:

OBAMA (off mic): You talked about my ears, and I just want to put you on notice: I'm very sensitive about -- What I told them was, ''I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.'"

DOWD (purring): We're trying to toughen you up

Not that the NYT is campaigning for this guy or anything. But have they thought about what this could mean?

THE SCENE: 2009. President Barack Obama meets with Iranian president Ahmadinejad.

OBAMA: I'm putting you on notice.
AHMADINEJAD: We will bury you!
OBAMA: I meant lay off my ears!
AHMADINEJAD: We will bury you, Dumbo-head!
OBAMA: WAAAA!!!

THE SCENE: 2010. President Obama meets with Democrat flacks.

JAMES CARVILLE: Mr. President, we've been conducting a listening tour, and--
OBAMA: What's that, a joke?
CARVILLE; Sir?
OBAMA: A listening tour'? Was that a wisecrack?
CARVILLE: I meant-
OBAMA: I know what you meant, baldy!
CARVILLE: Now hold on a minute-
OBAMA: See how you like it! Baldy-bean, Baldy-bean!
CARVILLE: Mr President, there has to be a better way to handle Iran.

THE SCENE: 2011. President Obama meets with Ahmadinejad.

AHMADINEJAD: We meet again.
OBAMA: Nose to nose.
AHMADINEJAD: What?
OBAMA: Oh nothing. Look. I have a plan right here.
AHMADINEJAD: You have--
OBAMA: It's right here. Right under your nose.
AHMADINEJAD: Ah- ah-
OBAMA. Hand me my umbrella, I think he's going to sneeze.
AHMADINEJAD: Your negotiating skills-
OBAMA: BIG NOSE! BIG NOSE! BIG NOSE!!!

I can't wait for this campaign. It should be a real blast from what I hear--
Oops. Sorry, Barack.
h/t Limbaugh

Monday, December 11, 2006

Praying For Walleye

My daughter came home today with a "Family Rosary Kit" on loan from her school. The kit consists of a couple of booklets, two tiny plastic statues and several rosaries.

I'm all in favor of encouraging families to pray the rosary together.

But did it have to come in a fishing tackle box?

You can really overdo this Minnesota thing sometimes.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Party Time,Con't.

More helpful hints from Mrs. V.

Match your wine to your walls. If your livingroom is "Kansas Grain" stick with chardonnay. That way when somebody- and I am still mystified as to how they managed this- splashes a bottle of vino all over your white walls you won't have a huge purple splotch you have to paint over. (Note to self: check garage for "Kansas Grain.")

Leave a table of art supplies out for the kids. Not only will they enjoy drawing pictures, they will leave each other charming little messages ("YOU ARE DED METE") which will make the evening special.

When the DJs show up be ready. Do not assume they are the umpteenth pair of hoodie-wearing dogooders showing up on your doorstep at dinnertime who want you to sign a petition demanding clean water in Minnesota. You become the stuff of "nightmare women we've worked for" legend that way.

Do not pat yourself on the back for getting a new memory card for the camera until you have actually located the camera.

A Santa muttering to himself in Yiddish is an especially intriguing treat for the children. Let their parents tell them what "mishegas" means.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Party Time

DIH is hosting her annual St. Nicholas day party tonight. The previous days have been consumed with preparations. So today she feels prepared to offer some helpful hints for the hostess.

1. Read the instuctions on your new iPod. You have no idea how much easier this will make things.

2. Remember that children will eat anythng, or nothing. If they're the sort who eat anything you're golden; if they're the picky variety you couldn't please them anyway, so why stress about it? Make hot dogs and let the chips fall where they may, 'scuse the atrocious pun.

3. Ditto bachelors. Never worry the food won't be good enough. They'll eat anything that isn't walking.

4. Tidy up your bookcases. A messy tower of paperbacks will spoil the decor of any room.

5. Tips on the above:
a. First and foremost hide all those "I'm-a-pathetic-loser" self-help books you've acquired over the years. Better still, toss 'em. If you're not improved by now you're never gonna be, so why have the constant reproach of "You Can Be A Real Adult" around?
b. Ditto the old college-era books you keep thinking you'll read some day. Face it, no one is going to believe you actually read Catullus.

5. Put as much as possible out of reach.

6. Remember that kid who turned on the stove when no one was looking and made that cute little fire in the kitchen? Remember that kennel from the puppy-training days? Now's the time to drag it out of the garage.

I'm sure I'll have more hints after the fact, so stay tuned to this space for all your Christmas season advice needs.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Now That's What I Call News

New Moms at Risk for Wide Range of Mental Problems
By LINDSEY TANNER, AP


'CHICAGO (Dec. 6) - New moms face increased risks for a variety of mental problems, not just postpartum depression, according to one of the largest studies of psychiatric illness after childbirth.'

Like short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss, Barney addiction....


"New dads aren't as vulnerable, probably because they don't experience the same physical and social changes associated with having a baby, the researchers and other experts said.'

Did you hear that? "Experts." Really, really smart and overpaid ones.

"Mental health is crucial to a mother's capacity to function optimally, enjoy relationships, prepare for the infant's birth, and cope with the stresses and appreciate the joys of parenthood," the editorial says.'

They finally figured that one out, huh.....

"Two of the editorial's three authors reported financial ties to the psychiatric drug industry."

Damn. Why couldn't they have worked for Botox? 'New moms desperately need cosmetic surgery." Or maybe Chanel. "New moms must have spiffy new wardrobes." No, wait- why couldnt they have worked for Ferrari?

These reports are always so disappointing.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Horse And His Boy

"NEW YORK It was one of the most sensational news stories off 2005, gone but not forgotten (by some): the case of a man from Enumclaw, Wash., who died in the act of [DIH edits here] with a horse -- at a farm known on the Web as the place to go to fufill such fantasies.

Now, inevitably, the incident is the focus of a new documentary, appropriately titled, "Zoo," and recently picked as a selection of next January's Sundance Film Festival, no less. It's being described as a "humanizing" view of a local "normal family" who has a "strange and fatal" encounter. " (Editor & Publisher)

Also selected:

My LIttle Pony
My 'Friend' Flicka
National Velvet!!
Play 'Misty of Chincoteague' For Me
Black Beauty...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Lingo

America is an awfully big country, and language just isn't the same from one place to the next. I have lived in a couple of different places and I should be used to this by now. I was in Mississippi once and it was days before I understood a word anyone was saying. In Massachusetts I thought a neighbor was complaining that his cow was stolen, but when he said they caught it on the Turnpike going 75mph I figured he had to mean "car."

But I have been genuinely shocked by MInnesotans. Twice.

The second time was last Saturday , when a lady giving me a facial said she liked to -- wait, I better start at the beginning.

A couple of years ago the pastor at our church decided to offer a course in basic Catholicism. Since no one's Catholicism is more basic than mine, I figured I'd take the class. I hadn't read the new Catechism yet, and there were a few things I wanted to nail down once and for all, like how to pronounce "schism." Also "chasm," should he decide to throw that in.

The usual crowd showed up for the course- timid lifers, know-it-all converts, the pastor's mother. One evening we were talking about the Ten Commandments. An elderly lady had a question about the commandment to keep the Sabbath. (I think that's number three, but don't quote me.) She said she was sometimes unsure where to draw the line between a hobby and work.

"Yeah, that's a tough one," said our amiable pastor. "Think of it this way. Suppose you have a garden,and your garden needs some work. Now, if by 'work' you mean hauling boulders and laying bricks, well, that would be real work. But if you just feel like putzing around out there..."

I dropped my pen. But no one else seemed to have noticed anything. Slip of the tongue, I said to myself. I picked up my pen and went back to my notes.

"Well, sure, Father, I can see that," said another old lady. "I like to putz around my garden too, and...."

Now I had to look around. No one was batting an eye! Next thing you knew they were all going on about their favorite plces to putz. I was in a church basement, and I was at a putz fest.

The next day when I took my daughter to her preschool at Temple Israel I nabbed one of the teachers. "OK, set me straight on this," I said, and I told them the whole story. After their initial shock -- "He said that in CHURCH?"-- they explained that the p-word does not possess the literal meaning in these parts that it has back in NY. "You hear it here, they don't know what it means. They think it means 'putter' or something like that."

I still can't believe it, though. I tried to imagine somebody like Father Rutler casually mentioning the need to "putz," and I couldn't do it. Not that I'm going to ask him, either-- he'd be shocked. And rightly so. I mean, look how appalled he was when I told him I belong to a "kick-ass parish" out here.

But he let it slide.

Anyway. on Saturday I was getting a facial from a lovely Hungarian lady and she starts talking about "putzing," too. I winced. Of all the habits I'm likely to pick up out here I hope that isn't one of them. I certainly wouldnt' letmy daughter the term.

Of course I don't let her say "you betcha" either.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving

I ripped this off from Sailorette. Thank you, Sailorette, for your service to our country, and for offering this.

Americans will die for liberty
By Andrew Gimson (from [UK]The Telegraph, November 8, 2006)

As we took off from London for New York a few days ago, our three over-excited children asked if there was any chance of the plane being blown up. I explained that the likelihood of that happening was virtually zero, and wondered how we were going to maintain some semblance of order during the flight. One did not wish the sedate American passengers by whom we were surrounded to form the impression that British parents are unable or unwilling to impart the rudiments of good manners.

Luckily, American Airlines had provided a screen on the back of the seat in front of one's own, on which one could watch old movies. There was also a map showing how far we had gone, on which places of interest were marked. It began by showing only two places: London and Chartwell.

The Americans are more old-fashioned than us, and what is equally admirable, they are not ashamed of being old-fashioned. They know Churchill was a great man, so they put his house on the map. There is a kind of Englishman to whom this sort of behaviour seems painfully unsophisticated.

We are inclined, in our snobbish way, to dismiss the Americans as a new and vulgar people, whose civilisation has hardly risen above the level of cowboys and Indians. Yet the United States of America is actually the oldest republic in the world, with a constitution that is one of the noblest works of man. When one strips away the distracting symbols of modernity - motor cars, skyscrapers, space rockets, microchips, junk food - one finds an essentially 18th-century country. While Europe has engaged in the headlong and frankly rather immature pursuit of novelty - how many constitutions have the nations of Europe been through in this time? - the Americans have held to the ideals enunciated more than 200 years ago by their founding fathers.

The sense of entering an older country, and one with a sterner sense of purpose than is found among the flippant and inconstant Europeans, can be enjoyed even before one gets off the plane. On the immigration forms that one has to fill in, one is asked: "Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offence or crime involving moral turpitude?" Who now would dare to pose such a question in Europe? The very word "turpitude" brings a smile, almost a sneer, to our lips.

The quiet solicitude that Americans show for the comfort of their visitors, and the tact with which they make one feel at home, can only be described as gentlemanly. These graceful manners, so often overlooked by brash European tourists, whisper the last enchantments of an earlier and more dignified age, when liberty was not confused with licence.

But lest these impressions of the United States seem unduly favourable, it should be added that the Americans have not remained in happy possession of their free constitution without cost. Thomas Jefferson warned that the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots. To the Americans, the idea that freedom and democracy exact a cost in blood is second nature.

We went to the fine new museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, devoted to the American Civil War. It was the bloodiest war in American history. Americans slaughtered Americans in terrible numbers before the North prevailed. You can look up the names of soldiers on a computer, and I found to my slight surprise that a man called Joseph Gimson served on the Union side as a private in the 37th Regiment of Coloured Infantry, and was "severely and dangerously wounded" in the battle of Northeast Station on February 22, 1865.

We stood at Gettysburg, scene of the bloodiest battle of all, on a field covered with memorials to the fallen. Here Abraham Lincoln gave his great and sublimely brief address, ending with the hope "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".

Again some Europeans will give an unkind smile. All this sounds so Puritan, so naïve and so self-righteous. We cannot help feeling that the Americans ought to have been able to settle their quarrel without killing each other, and, while we cannot defend the institution of slavery, we wonder whether the North had the right to impose its will by force.

These are vain quibbles. The North went to war and was victorious.

The Americans are prepared to use force in pursuit of what they regard as noble aims. It is yet another respect in which they are rather old-fashioned. They are patriots who venerate their nation and their flag.

The idea has somehow gained currency in Britain that America is an essentially peaceful nation. Quite how this notion took root, I do not know. Perhaps we were unduly impressed by the protesters against the Vietnam war.

It is an idea that cannot survive a visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington, where one is informed that the "price of freedom" is over and over again paid in blood.

The Americans' tactics in Iraq, and their sanction for Israel's tactics in Lebanon, have given rise to astonishment and anger in Europe. It may well be that those tactics are counter-productive, and that the Americans and Israelis need to take a different approach to these ventures if they are ever to have any hope of winning hearts and minds.

But when the Americans speak of freedom, we should not imagine, in our cynical and worldly-wise way, that they are merely using that word as a cloak for realpolitik. They are not above realpolitik, but they also mean what they say.

These formidable people think freedom is so valuable that it is worth dying for.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy Halloween

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The gorgeous cowgirl on the left is my daughter Sophia. The young gentleman is her buddy Seven, who really wanted to be a Ninja for Halloween, but was convinced by Sophia to be a "ninja cowboy" instead.

Just had to post this.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Season's Greetings

The catalogs are arriving thick and fast, and it isn't even Advent yet. By Gaudete Sunday I should be able to build a cabin out of rolled-up LL Beans and all the others that get stuffed into my mailbox this time of year.

Still it allows for some early holiday shopping. And as always DIH likes to deal with her favorite gift-giving questions first: what to give when a really mixed message is called for?

One solution presented itself the other day, in a gardening catalog. Jackson and Perkins is having a sale on roses. Who do you know who really deserves the "Social Climber" rosebush? 43% off!

Or how about a "Pooping Moose?" Hand-carved in Alaska! Lift the wooden moose's head, his tail goes up, and out come M&Ms all over the kitchen counter. If that's what you filled it with, of course.

Actually the Pooping Moose is kind of cool, I'm thinking about getting one myself. But I will definitely give a pass to the life-size collapsible plywood moosehead you can mount above your fireplace. The trick here is who deserves to be known as the dolt who shelled out three hundred bucks for that work of art. Not yours truly, please God.

Oh- here's a good one. "The 'Now" Watch." "A watch for those who live in the moment. Wheels, pins and jewels have been replaced with sand and a stone etched 'NOW.' The battery never needs replacing because there isn't one." DIH is not making this up. This is the actual catalog description. The "NOW" Watch goes for $46.95. I am told it takes $23. to buy an outhouse for a poor family India. For the same amount of money you could buy two, and chuck "The 'NOW' Watch" down one of them. You'd still have almost a buck left over. Two birds with one stone, not a bad deal.

I have a few more favorites but as I plan to give them as gifts to the family I'd better not blow the surprise by blogging about them here.

I love the holidays!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman

Somewhere I have a photograph of me and Milton Friedman. The plan was we were going to count to three and then just as the photographer snapped the picture we were going to put our heads together and make the funniest faces we knew how. Milton made it through; he looks a little like Bugs Bunny . I cracked up, and I look pretty ridiculous.

We were working on a documentary on free market economics. I knew absolutely nothing about the subject. But I knew genius when I heard it. Genius, I had realized way back in college, was not the ability to give long, complicated speeches, or to drop lots of long words, or hold forth on any given subject until the cows came home. Genius was the ability to take the very complicated and make it very clear and simple, in ten words or less. MiltonFriedman could do that. He could sit down with an ignoramus like me and in less time than it takes to order dinner make the truth about what money really is and what it really does plain as the dawn.

Milton Friedman was a genius, a Nobel Prize winner, an intellectual who knew how to make a girl laugh at a silly joke and go home feeling like maybe she wasn't such a dope after all. He was a nice man. He died today at the age of 94. Another person the world will miss.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

If It Ain't Broke...

We all know about the digital revolution in Hollywood. We all know they can do amazing things with computer graphics, etc. And we also know that for some years now they have been sprucing up old movies with new technology.

This is a terrible idea and DIH wishes it would stop.

Ever watch one of the re-released classics? They're awesome, man! I mean, they've just done the most amazing stuff! They're so much clearer now! Check out the new "Wizard of Oz"- you can sooo see the strings holding up the Cowardly Lion's tail! And "Singing In The Rain"? That scene where Gene Kelly's dancing int he rain and we film buffs all know the sound was just out of sync? Well now you can REALLY tell! He's "tapping" at the wrong times, man! This is so awesome!

I know there are some stupid people in Hollywood, but you'd think even they could figure this one out.

Stop ruining the great movies, dudes. Generations will thank you.

Monday, November 13, 2006

You Blend, Con't.

TUESDAY. Cocktails with the neighborhood ladies. I mention the new blender.

A short silence ensues.

"Your husband bought it, right?" says an Armani-suited graphic designer.

Well-- uh, yeah...

"Two words," says the designer. "Protective headgear. My husband bought one, too. That thing sounds like a jet engine taking off."

"But is sounded OK at Costco..."

"Costco is a freakin' airplane hangar, of course it sounded fine there! I am telling you. Get yourself a pair of industrial-strength hear protectors. You'll thank me."


WEDNESDAY. Realize I am afraid of new blender.

THURSDAY. It sits on the kitchen counter, silent,still, unused. Its virginity mocks me.

SATURDAY. Spouse offers to make dinner. Takes some of my eggplant parmesan- that eggplant parm from the farmer's market cheapo eggplants, that labor of love- and purees it in new blender. Pours it over pasta. It is not bad.

SUNDAY. Page through blender cookbook. If I follow all its instructions in a month I will be slim, gorgeous, death-proof in my non-trans-fattedness.

"Oh yeah. You blend."

SUNDAY. Go to Costco. Bring husband along. All goes well until we step into the fateful aisle where a woman is demonstrating a blender. "This is not like any blender you've seen before! It's more powerful than Osterizer or Cuisinart . This blender comes equipped with a two-horsepower motor!"

All over Costco the male of the species stop dead in their tracks. Did she say--horsepower?

"That's right, two horsepower! With this blender you can make a fresh batch of peanut butter in seconds. Watch! I'm using only organic peanuts- I pour in the nuts and I flip this switch--" RRRMMMMMM-"and voila, fresh organic peanut butter!"

Male of species move closer. "Mmm-- peanut buttter....."
Female of species (doubtful): "Well- no trans fats is good..."

"Make fresh soup in less than five minutes! Hot tomato tortilla soup- try some!"

"So it cooks?" I ask.

"Yes it does!" beams the demo lady.

"Where does the heat come from?"

"The friction of the motor provides all the heat you need!"

Male of species: "Just the friction?"

Demo lady: "Of course. It's a two-horespower motor!"

You can now actually watch the men's thought processes in action. "Horsepower. Me like horsepower. Horsepower good for guys. Horsepower not for girls!"

"I"LL TAKE IT!" yells the spouse.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Link

If you look to the right you will notice a blog has been added to my list. "A Christian Democracy" is a new addition to the blogosphere. It is written by my husband Richard, and like him, it's a little on the brainy side. But DIH rejoices the spouse has discovered the joys of blogging. Lecturing the worid will mean less time for lecturing me.

Anyway check it out. Onward, soldiers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nut Jobs Of The World Unite!

The local rag ran this letter today. The headline reads, "Play is a taste of Catholics' own medicine."

"I am proud that the University of Minnesota plans to present "The Pope and the Witch."

"Sensitive Catholics should sit in my shoes for a day and hear how their antigay rhetoric, homophobic behind-the-scenes manipulation of public opinion and out-and-out lobbying to keep me from marrying sound to me.
"Bigotry? Yes. Pure hatred for me? Absolutely. Yet any portrayal of the pope other than saintly is "Catholic bashing."
As a former Catholic, I think if they dish it, they should shut up and take it, too.
STEPHEN M. DENT, MINNEAPOLIS"

No offense, Steve, but the idea of "sitting in your shoes" is just plain disgusting. Note to Star Tribune editors: don't you have anyone on staff to catch that kind of thing?

Our New Overlords

Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House. I guess I kind of envy her. It must be nice to have Chris Matthews slobbering over you like he did over her last night. "And there she'll be up on the podium at the State of the Union address, next to that sourpuss Cheney- a gorgeously dressed, knockout woman! Hubba hubba! Ooh, baby, could I ever go for a piece of..."

Ok, I added that last sentence. But it was totally in keeping with the spirit of CM's comments.

Ms. Pelosi will go down in history as the first woman Speaker. Man, that "First woman" bit must scorch Hillary's cookies something fierce. I hope the girls can work something out.

And how about that Ted Kennedy? "We are the best hope of mankind!" Heads up, mankind- your best hope is a family of unrepentant drugheads who can't even ski without crashing into something, let alone drive.

Mankind-- we have a problem.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Questions For Today

What time you figure CBS will announce the winners? Five, six p.m.?

Which TV pundit will use the phrase "take their ball and go home" first?

(Two-parter.) a. How many times will CNN viewers be reminded of that disgraced evangelical preacher tonight?
b. Will that be before, after or during the speeches about the virtues of same sex marriage?

Do exit pollsters offer kids candy? What do they offer adults?

Will they ever let Lynne Cheney anywhere near Wolf Blitzer again? How about tonight? Things could get a little dull...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Showbiz

There's an article in today's NYT , "Hollywood Puts The Squeeze on Talent."

The average cost of making amd marketing a major motion picture these days is a whopping $96.2 mil, up from a mere $54.1 ten years ago. Since ticket sales have been dropping off and video sales have flattened, studio execs are looking for a few corners to cut. So they're offering the talent less pay.

Obviously the actors, directors and writers are not happy about this. Russell Crowe has pitched a couple of public tantrums already, and who knows what those fabulous directors are saying. Except that they're still fabulous, of course.

I can understand the prima donnas throwing a few fits- the actors, the genius directors without whom obviously the world would stop turning. But writers? Where do they get off?

Writers have been getting screwed by the powers that be since time began. "Did you hear about the Polish starlet? She slept with all the writers." Oops, that one came out a little more literally than DIH in tended. But you get the idea.

Writers get copied from, stolen from, plagiarized. Years ago I was watching a Bill Moyers special on PBS about race relations. After a couple of minutes his voiceover started to sound awfully familiar. I went to my bookshelf and took down a brilliant but woefully undersold book by a not-yet-famous friend and turned to the introduction. Yep. There it was. Paragraph by paragraph. Well, at least he could say he had admirers in TV land.

I had a couple of TV land friends, too. One writer I knew won an Emmy for her work on a soap opera. A month later a new show-runner fired all the writers. Our friend had an Emmy on her nightstand but had to take a job answering phone calls for the Clairol help line. "No, madam, our product is not intended for dogs. I'm sorry your poodle turned purple, but...."


That is the writing life. Writers write because they have to. If they could do anything more useful they probably would have done it. But the ranks of writers are full of people who really and truly could not do anything else, because if they did, a) they' be really lousy at it and b) they'd go off the deep end because they're not writing.

DIH included.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Great Idea

This was posted on Powerline:

"Lt. Col. Jan Horvath is the officer at the Counterinsurgency Center at Camp Taji who has agreed to receive books sent by readers to stock the center's library. Today Col. Horvath writes:

"Thank you for all you do for us. We appreciated the Jon Carry coverage - kudos to the 1st BCT of the 34th Division for their creative and honorable humor.
"Last and certainly not least, thank you and all your readers for the tremendous outpouring of books. The gracious and patriotic sentiments expressed by so many contributors touched many of our leaders - they appreciate the support of our citizens. After all, we are your Army. Thank you again.

I remain VR,
JSH"

Powerline adds,

"Once again, the address for readers wanting to contribute books to the Counterinsurgency Center at Camp Taji is:
Lt. Col. Jan Horvath
Headquarters COIN CFE
Camp Taji, Iraq
APO AE 0937"

What a fantastic opportunity. My husband is a serial paperback-buyer. Now's my chance to clear some room on the bookshelves.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vote Democrat. Vote Terrorist.

"Of course Americans should vote Democrat," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND.

Jaara was the chief in Bethlehem of the Brigades, the declared "military wing" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.

Together with the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Brigades has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing inside Israel the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis.

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin, said he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam.

"[The mujahedeen fighters] brought the Americans to speak for the first time seriously and sincerely that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam and that they should fix a schedule for their withdrawal from Iraq," boasted Abu Ayman.

_ World Net Daily (h/t Powerline)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What Churchill Really Said

... as Sen. Kerry recalls it:

"You ask, what is our policy? I say it is... um... give me a minute... oh yeah, to wage war. By land, see and air. War with all our might and with all all the, you know, like, strength God has given us. And to wage war against a really nasty- wait, make that monstrous- tyranny never surpassed in the dark and really bummed out- I mean, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That's our policy, dude.

"You ask what is our- uh- you know, that thing you do with a gun or an arrow or something- oh yeah, aim. So, you ask, what is our aim. I can answer in one word: it is victury. Victury at all coats. Sorry, at all costs. Victury in spite of all scaries- um, I mean terrors. Victury, however gnarly- uh, I mean long and hard the road may be. For without victury there is no sirvival."

Kerrymouth Spreads

I don't watch a lot of late night TV but I caught a snippet of Richard Belzer on Bill Maher's show the other night. Belzer was snapping at a congresswoman. who said her stepson is in Iraq. Belzer's response, and I have to paraphrase but I'm sure I'm pretty close: "So he's your son! That doesn't make him some brilliant intellectual!"

From Wikipedia:

"[Belzer] attended Dean Junior College in Franklin, MA for a year and a part of a semester before being asked to leave for leading too many student demonstrations. According to one interview, he was majoring in Physical Education. After leaving college, Belzer was encouraged by his father to enlist in the Army. He soon realized he was unsuitable for the military and tried to get out, and eventually he was successful at terminating his enlistment early."

Now that's the kind of guy I want rating who's brilliant.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Still Sleazy

I see I still have my porno ad. But as one of you pointed out, it is election season, so maybe this puts me right in line with the rest of the media.

Are any of you out there writers? I mean, people writing books?

Great- now can you remind me, please, why anyone on earth becomes a writer in the first place?

DIH is determined to finish her [insert string of ranting adjectives here] book in the next few months. But this is a dread task. I have files on top of files, draft bits on top of draft bits, chapter rewrites on top of chapter rewrite-- and for some reason I seem to have given every last one of them the same title on my hard drive, so I have to wade through every one before I remember what's in it.

I am also beginning to suspect I've done a lot of "mental rewriting." You know, the kind where you're dropping off to sleep and you suddenly get an inspiration- Aha! That's the way to say that! Perfect! Then you look at your manuscript a few days later and it seems you never wrote your inspiration down...

I am sick of wading through files. But the alternative is to start all over--- re-invent the wheel--

DIH is open to suggestions.

In the meantime I cling to the belief that it will all come right in the end.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh for pity's sake.

Every so often the powers that be at Google grant humble DIH an "ad." This is a little box at the top of my blog. I have no control over what goes into this box- usually it reflects something I've written about lately, if it's there at all.

But for the past few days some joker has seen fit to stick me with a porn ad. (Is it still there?) I have written to Google telling them to take it down, but no luck as of this moment.

Well, all I can say is there are a lot of idiots in the world, and apparently some of them are employed by the mighty Google. Maybe DIH will get lucky and they will be relocated to China where they can do Google's dirty work with more gusto.

In the meantime my apologies to my readers.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Barackin'

I seem to be the only blogger in American not opining about Barack Obama. So I'd better catch up.

One of the most long-awaited moments in American politics occurred that fateful Election Eve two years back when Barack Obama, he of Harvard Law and divorced parents (could he be any more counter-cultural?), was elected to the United States Senate. I don't remember his acceptance speech, but man, do I ever remember THE LOOK ON JESSE JACKSON'S FACE.

The look that said, "It's OVER, Jesse. Get used to it."

Now that was worth waiting for, wasn't it?

Monday, October 23, 2006

One Down...

We got rid of an oak tree yesterday, after part of it fell in the front yard overnight. If you ever want to make new friends, have part of a huge tree come tumbling off its base and sprawl across your front lawn. Many, many people will stop and stare, I promise you.

So yesterday the inimitable Craig H. came by with his five kids and his chainsaw. We do not have five kids, but Richard went looking in the garage for his chainsaw before Craig arrived. ("I just want him to know I have one, too.")

Thankfully R's saw did not work, so Craig did all the sawing. At the critical moment we gathered his kids plus mine and one from the neighborhood to watch the 20-inch, 2-storey monster come crashing down. This was a lot of fun. It's not every day you get toyell "TIM-BERRRRR!" and mean it. Although Craig's wife says they actually get quite a few chances at her house.

DIH rejoices that there is one fewer squirrel condo in the world. Now if I can just find someone to haul away the wood.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cold One

We are deep into campaign season and the lawn signs are sprouting up like mushrooms. Here in Minnesota there's the same landscaping dichotomy you see every fall: within the Twin Cities the lawn signs are all for the DFLers, but the minute you leave the city limits they're all for Republicans. Being a city person I tend to see mostly the DFLers.

One sign in particular has held my interest for weeks now: apparently there's a beer running for state office. Blue "awards ribbon" design on a white background, red diagonal stripe behind the blue ribbon. I've seen this design before, on the labels of beer bottles. Pabst Blue Ribbon. I wonder if they'll sue for copyright in fringement.

Today I got a flyer from the Pabst man. "My name is Alex Whitney, and I'm a Gay Republican." The photograph is of a young guy with brown hair, wearing what looks like a wedding band on his right hand and a loud green Izod polo shirt,complete with alligator. The "preppie circa 1979" look.

All things considered I think I'd rather vote for Pabst.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snowball

It all started when I bought a bushel of eggplant at the Farmer's Market. Five bucks for the whole basket. I couldn't resist.

Well, actually I could have resisted. Almost did. But then I started thinking, hm. Haven't made ratatouille in a while... I could make some eggplant parm, too... I could give a few away,if I have any left over...

So I bought a bushel of egglpant. For those of you not familiar with such measurements, that's a lot of eggplant.

I started at around 9 am. Of course I had to use Julia Child's recipes. otherwise what't the point, right? I mean, why just chop it up and throw it all into a pot when you can torture yourself slicing, salting, leeching and pre-baking your eggplant on a hundred cookie sheets instead? That's too much fun to miss.

Anyway I did the eggplant parm first and the ratatouille second. It was around 8pm when my project finally wrapped. By then just the thought of eating anything involving eggplant made me feel sick, so I had a Boca burger.

I think somewhere in my pre-history there must be some deep memory of famine. "We're all going to starve if I don't get the crops in! Quick! Make ten gallons of pesto!" I have enough homemade applesauce in my house to choke a pig, or give one a good scare, anyway. And it's not like we're a big family.

My refrigerator is now teeming with Servin'Savers. So now I'm thinking the same thought I think every fall and never act on: I think I need a freezer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Coverup or Social Climbing?

Last Friday the local rag published a piece on how the two gubernatorial candidates are reaching out to hunters. Both the candidates say they are hunters themselves and wanted the support of their fellow woodsmen.

The paper published two photos. Top pic: Democratic candidate, sitting on the grass, his arm around a magnificent yellow labrador retriever. The Lab was ID'd as his dog, "Laddy". I mean a gorgeous dog. Big, wide head, perfect coat, gentle dark eyes, at least 100 pounds. Perfect. Almost made me want to vote for the guy.

Bottom pic: Republican guy in a silly hat, brandishing a rifle behind a dead deer.

Tbe message is clear, right? Democrat hunters are dog-lovers, Republican ones are deer killers.
Even for such a rabidly Dem paper as the local rag, DIH thought this was a bit of a stinker. But that's politics.

So I open the Sunday paper and what do I find? Pictures of the Democrat guy running around playing with two dogs, one of whom was identified as "Laddy."

WHO WAS A GOLDEN RETRIEVER.

Look, I apologize to any Golden lovers out there, but face it: Labs rule. Everyone knows this. Pick up the next LLBean catalogue that tumbles into you mailbox. Where would that company be if they took out all the labs? What do you think would happen to their profits? They'd plummet.

Who does this guy think he's kidding? Is he trying to pass for a Lab lover? What did he do, borrow the dog for a photo op? Hire him? "Hey, pooch, wanna make fifty bucks?"

I know this Democrat guy's numbers are in the polling dumpster, and I'm aware that everyone pulls out all the stops in the final weeks before Election Day. But this is a new low.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Midnight Mysteries (Or Things To Ponder At 3am)

Why do Barbie dolls come with shoes?

Is saying "all glory and honor is Yours" like saying "my mother and father is here"?

My neighbor has two kids. Why is he building an 8,000 square foot house? And what are they going to do in there?

Does EWTN have a sugar daddy, and if so since he's clearly into NRFPT (not ready for prime time) acts, how come he never sends me a check?

Why does anyone live in International Falls?

How come I always wake up at 3am? What's wrong with 4am, or 5, or 6?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No Contest

The World Housekeeping Championships were held last week in Elmhurst, Queens.

There were no surprises in the heats: the Irish were eliminated in the first round,the Koreans were disqualified on the grounds that they were using the makeshift kitchens in the nail salons to avoid cleaning the ones at home, and the Carribean contingent withdrew as a unit early on ("We got to get to work! We don't have time for this!")

After eliminating the Croatians in a neck-and-neck contest for shiniest linoleum the final round went to the Sicilians and those diehard Germans. For the Sicilians it was a real grudgematch, no surprises there under any circumstances but as Mrs. Volpone of the 78th Street Screamers put it, "The war ain't over and it's never gonna be! Yelling? Who's yelling?"
Unfortunately for the south-of-the-booters, though, at the last minute those wily Bavarians invented yet another new vacuum technology, and the rest is housecleaning history: Deutschland won by a cat's hair in the Screamingly Clean Vestibule contest, which put them over the top for the championship.

In other news, DIH cleaned her house last weekend. She now plans to hire help at the first opportunity.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Today's Laugh

Headline in today's New York Times:

"Where Faith abides, employees have few rights."

The faith is Catholicism.

The "employee"? A novice in a religious order. Religious life is described as her "occupation."

Gee. Wonder who her "employer" was. Does this mean we can all sue Him when we're ticked off about something?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Don't Mess With The Donut Lady

I show up for donut duty at 7:45 this morning and what do I find ? A pathetic excuse for a con job.

A note lay on the stainless steel counter. "Donut shift: there are enough creamers for all 21 tables: four each. Thank you."

What the hay? Who left this note? And has he ever taken a good look at the donut crowd? Does he think they skimp on the cream?

I knew what was going on here. Somebody screwed up. Somebody forgot to order creamers. So they're trying to pass their screw-up off as a deliberate health measure. My mother used to pull the same trick with the spaghetti sauce. She'd buy one jar of Ragu to feed six kids. Then she'd add about a gallon of water and announce, "We're having a nice light sauce tonight." The sad thing is we all fell for it, for years.

But those years are over for this donut lady. Nobody tells me "we don't have enough sugar/cream/butter/all the unhealthy things that make life delicious" and tells me this was a good idea. Nobody. I knew exactly what I had to do:

I had to break into the school. There had to be more creamers in there somewhere. So that's what I did. I dashed across the street in the early morning darkness. I got inside the building. And there they were, creamers by the bucketful, all just waiting for me. I got 'em from- well, I better not say. I may need to do this again some day.

That's right! I admit it! And I'm glad I did what I done!

Okay, so I didnt' exactly break in. I borrowed a key (didn't tell them why, though). I figured if any of the teachers complained Monday morning, I'd just remind them of the time I was doing donuts for the school and broke into the church pantry for exactly the same reason. Turn about is fair play and all that. (I also arranged for someone else to take the fall, just in case.)

Oh, and to a certain Holy Name Society guy who, when he heard I was short on cream, sneaked into the refrigerator when my back was turned and took the last two gallons of milk- "they're mine! they're mine!"-- keep your stupid fresh unpasturized "I got it from a farmer" dairy products. Ultrapasturized is the wave of the future.

I am Donut Woman, and I take no prisoners.

Remember that, America.

Friday, October 06, 2006

No More Mrs. Nice Guy

I have about half a dozen huge oak trees on my suburban-lot-sized property. This is a ridiculous amount of oak trees. If there's one thing I don't want around it's anything that says to the squirrel community "come on in."

So when I moved in two years ago I called a couple of tree guys and asked them to take the trees out. Well, one or two of them anyway.

This request unleashed a torrent of bitter regionalism.

"We can't take out those oaks! Those oaks are valuable! You East Coasters are so smug! You think you're so superior with all the oak trees you got back there! Well this is the Midwest and we value our oaks! So there!"

So now with fall almost over my yard is full of fallen oak loeaves. And I mean full. You have to wade from the back door to the garage.

My husband and I agreed we'd spend this weekend on fall cleanup. But I have a plan: I've got to get to the leaf-blower first. Because I know what will happen if I don't. My husband will spend an hour blowing all the leaves into a huge pile. Then he'll beam with pride and say "Look! I cleaned up the yard!" Then he'll leave it to me to stuff the leaves into bags. Because, after all, he already did all the work, right? He "cleaned up!"

Well not this year, pal. This year I'm grabbing the leaf blower if I have to get up at 4am to do it. This year I'll be the hero who makes the huge leaf pile for the kid to jump in. Oh, I know that's your plan. You want all the glory parts.

And this year I won't be the only one who spends days, DAYS, stuffing dried up oak leaves into huge bags and lugging them to the curb and then driving back to Costco for more bags. Not this year.

Not.
This.
Year.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Air America Is A Laugh A Minute If You're Dead?

Every once in a while I listen to "Air America," because- well, because somebody has to, I guess. (I should add that when I take various young relatives to the three-ring circus I usually watch the outer two rings for the same reason.)

So I'm listening today and Al Franken reads an email: "Dear Mr. Franken, Whoever told you you were funny? Must've been your mother. Stick to the news."

Al's sidekick spoke up. "Al, I know you're too much of a gentleman to respond to that, so may I respond? Mr. Listener- Al's mother is DEAD! Hmph!" As Al murmured something he added, "Typical right-winger!"

I guess this means if you work for Air America you think "typical right wingers" all agree that...

That Al Franken should stick to the news?

That the fact that someone's mother is dead means she could never have said "My son is so funny"?

That only dead people could consider him funny?

Man, I don't think they know what the heck they're doing over there. No wonder they never get paid.

For the record I thought "The Al Franken Decade" skit on SNL was pretty funny.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Different From All Other Days

One thing I haven't gotten used to yet about living in Minnesota is how quickly fall comes on. Right now when I look out the window I see leaves covering my yard and many trees past their peak color-wise. The first week of October here looks more like November back home. Halloween looks like Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving looks like Christmas... well, you get the idea.

My daughter's school is in a town with a large Orthodox Jewish community. Yesterday when I was driving her to school I noticed a number of families- well, fathers and sons- all dressed up and walking to synagogue. Hm, I said to myself, glancing at the half naked trees. Must be Sukkot already.

Then I did the seasaonal recalculations, and realized it was too early for Sukkot. It was Yom Kippur. I had almost missed it.

You may not think Irish Catholics would take much notice of the Day of Atonement. But this is not the case, at least not where I come from. Long Islanders of all stripes take Yom Kippur very seriously.

Half of them, of course, head for the synagogue and fast until sundown. The other half take their one chance of the whole year to say, Screw the buses, baby, I'm DRIVING in to the city! And when I get there, I'm gonna park-- ON THE STREET!

We do this all day. We park, and park, and park again. We take pictures of our more spectacular hits, like the choicest midtown spots. It's a wild and crazy day. By the time it's over we are giddy with the sense of victory.

Then the sun goes down and everyone's done atoning and we drive back home . But the thrills aren't over yet. We look up the restaurants we want to try out next year, the ones we bridge-and-tunnel types can never get in to -- except on the one night when no one else is eating. We pick up the phone and make our reservations.

Next year, in The Russian Tearoom!

Monday, October 02, 2006

First Words At Last

" As Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon in 1969, a global audience of 500 million people on Earth watched and listened. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” they heard him say as he dropped from his spacecraft to make the first human footprint on the lunar surface.

"But from the moment he said it, debate has raged over whether the Nasa astronaut might have fluffed his lines.

"Mr Armstrong has long insisted that he meant to say “one small step for a man . . .” — which would have been a more meaningful and grammatically correct version, free of tautology. But even the astronaut himself could not be sure.

"Now ,using high-tech sound analysis techniques, an Australian computer expert has rediscovered the missing “a” in Mr Armstrong’s famous quote. Peter Shann Ford ran the Nasa recording through sound-editing software and clearly picked up an acoustic wave from the word “a”, finding that Mr Armstrong spoke it at a rate of 35 milliseconds — ten times too fast for it to be audible." [h/t Drudge]


Also on the tape:

"Damn! Vodka bottles!"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Quelle Ambience

The New York Times Online is running a slide show about Paris. What a gorgeous city it is, especially at night, everybody wants to be in Paris, yadda yadda. And of course the French even make the NYT look patriotic these days, which is an added plus.

But all this frog-gazing has made me miss Hemingway. So I think I'll dig out my paperbacks and spend a few happy hours rereading old Ernie this week.

Rereading Hemingway is one of my favorite things to do. My first encounter with EH was a forced one: we had to read The Sun Also Rises in ninth grade. I zipped through the pages and thought, OK, did Hemingway, who's next?

When I was thirty I read it again. Talk about a completely different experience. All I could think was, "My God- they let children read this? What were those nuns thinking?"

Anyway if I start talking in clipped phrases about bombing bridges or fighting bulls or betting on fights in the next few days, I apologize in advance and beg a little indulgence.

And now, Ingles. The books. Yes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What's At Stake

My dear friend Father George Rutler is pastor of The Church of Our Savior in New York. Last week he published the followig in the parish bulletin.

"September 24, 2006

"Many in the communications media, accustomed to sound bites, lack the ability to follow the reasoning of Pope Benedict XVI's brilliant lecture at the University of Regensburg. Some journalists misrepresented him, inciting fanatics who burned churches and killed and threaten worse. The New York Times, which defends films and art blaspheming Christ, demands that the Pope apologize to hysterical holdovers from the Bronze Age. Among the words excised from most reports of the lecture were those of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. . . . Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence or threats."

"The Pope's lecture includes lines taken verbatim from Part II, chapter 2 of his book Truth and Tolerance which we have been selling in our parish book stall this past year, and which caused little comment until demagogues distorted it. The Times of London, to its credit, commented in a September 17 editorial that the Pope wanted to show the contradiction between religion and holy war. 'Violent conversion to any religious faith, or for that matter violent oppression of religious opponents, goes against God's Nature.' One immediately thinks of journalists kidnapped and ordered to convert to Islam at the point of a gun. Reaction to the Pope's lecture shows that a large number of Muslims are not interested in rational debate. The Holy Father was insulted, burned in effigy and threatened. It was an unfortunate sequel to demonstrations after the publication of Danish cartoons critical of Mohammed, which led to the massacre of over 100 innocent people.

"Our civilization is at stake. They are naïve who think that fanatics are not serious in their malice. Mr. Chamberlain thought Hitler might be reasoned with as a gentleman. After the Yalta Conference, President Roosevelt opined that under the surface Stalin might be 'a Christian gentleman.' Countless millions died because of those miscalculations.

"Last Sunday, the city authorities assigned police protection to our own parish because of feared violence from Islamic extremists demonstrating nearby. If God assigns particular people to be his witnesses in each age, we should feel honored that he had us conceived in this generation, to witness to his Gospel with reason and charity.

T"he London Times said, 'The clash of civilizations is not between Christianity and Islam. It is between those who favor open debate and those who think free speech is anathema. . . . The Vatican has said [the Pope] is very sorry his speech caused such offence to Muslims. That is fine but it should not go further than that. . . . As in the case of the Danish cartoons, Muslim zealots are trying to impose their restrictions of free expression on the West. Mindful as we should be of religious sensitivities, that cannot be allowed to happen."'"

Fr. George W. Rutler

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just Think What This Says About All Those Bald Guys!

Actor Rupert Everett has announced he is sterile as a result of having a full head of hair.

A medication he takes to combat baldness has rendered Rupert bald in another respect. Yesterday's MetroUK reported:

"Everett, now approaching 50 says, 'I take medication for Alopecia. It means I don't have any sperm left. If I stop taking the pills, all my hair will fall out, but I would rather have hair than sperm."'

Since Evert is openly gay the idea of reproducing probably was never very high on his agenda. Still, it's a dilemma. "I can be hirstute, or I can reproduce... hm... where's my mousse?"

[h/t Wuzzadem]

Here Comes The Party

"So are you thrilled?" Demfriend bubbled as we waited for our kids at taekwondo class.

I thought she meant the Twins. So I said, politely, "Oh yes. Absolutely. You must be too."

She frowned. "Why would I be? I'm not a Republican."

Egad. Another Midwestern subtlety I hadn't caught on to. Note to self: Republicans have their own baseball teams out here.

That was how I found out the Republican National Convention will be held out here in the Twin Cities in 2008. So in a little over a year and a half I plan to hold a dinner party. There should be a few people in town willing to speak to us by then.

I'm telling you, it gets lonely sometimes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Shows Cancelled

"BERLIN, Sept. 26 — A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about what many see as the surrender of artistic freedom.

"In the scene that offended Muslims and led to security fears, a king places the severed heads of religious leaders on chairs.
The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled “Idomeneo” from its fall schedule after the police warned of an “incalculable risk” to the performers and the audience." New York Times, Sept. 27

Also cancelled:

"Salome." Muslims protestd that there was only one severed Christian head, and that's just not good enough.

"La Traviata." Muslims protested that the heroine was permitted to die of natural causes. "Why was that woman not stoned to death as proper etiquette demands? It is shameful!"

"Madame Butterfly." Muslims complained that the heroine was allowed to commit suicide. "Adulterous Japanese whore! Stone her, stone her!"


Shows not cancelled:

"Dialogues of the Carmelites." "Murdered nuns? Now that's more like it!"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Shameless Self- Promotion

Ahem.

DIH has a piece in NRO today (www.nationalreview.com) about the break-in at Mark Kennedy's senatorial campaign. Happy reading.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mistaken Identities?

On Saturday I thought I was looking at a photo of Howard Stern in drag. It turned out to be Barbra "no-bra" Streisand.

Last week I glanced at the a photo and thought USA Today was doing a feature on the late Vincent Price. It turned out to be Bob Dylan.

So here is Mrs. V's question of the week:

Who would you most like to see adopt the burqua? I mean, besides Barbara Walters. And Hillary doesn't count, either. You can include guys.

The floor is open to suggestions.

In Case You Haven't Noticed, Noah, It's Pouring Out There

"That which is not said is often the greater truth."

So writes 24-year-old Noah Kunin of Minneapolis, MN on one of his websites, www.blanked-out.com. Depending on your source, Mr. Kunin is either a "local blogger" or a "Democratic Party operative." Personaly I think anybody who has another website (www.actblue.com/page/frontierpac), devoted to raising money for the DFL passes for the latter, but I suppose it's open to debate.

For anyone who hasn't been following the Senate race up here in the North Star state, let me fill you in.

The candidates are Amy Klobuchar (DFL) and Mark Kennnedy (R). Klobuchar is the Hennepin County attorney. Kennedy is the U.S. Representative for the 6th district. At the moment Klobuchar is leading in the polls. How much of a lead she has is open to debate, too: the Minneapolis Star Tribune says over 20 points, Kennedy's own pollsters say more like 10.

At any rate Klobuchar's lead seems pretty solid.

So the question is, why did she pull such a bone-headed stunt last weekend?

Last Friday, TK Noah Kunin contacted Tara McGuinness, Klobuchar's communications director, and gave her a link to a website of Howell Communications TK Inc., the Dallas- based firm that is handling Mark Kennedy's ads. Using the link McGuinness got into Howell's files and viewed an ad that Kennedy hadn't aired yet. She then told her staff to watch the ad, too.

Five days later Klobuchar fired McGuinness and issued a statement to the effect that this kind of thing would not be toelrated and the whole matter of the file theft had been turned over to the FBI.

Hm, you're wondering. Um- five days later? Just out of, you know, curiosity, why did it take her five days? I mean, she's a prosecutor, right? She knows the laws about breaking and entering, right? So what's with the delay?

Klobuchar is mum on the subject, but a few facts: On Monday, the local paper published its 20+ points lead poll. On Tuesday morning, the New York Times ran a flattering report on the poll. Tuesday night, the candidates had their first televised debate.

Yo, Noah- seems like an awful lot's not being said here! Where are you, guy?

"Dang, I Ain't Never Gonna Get That Nobel Prize- Waaaah!"

Hope everybody caught Bill Clinton's hissy fit on Fox News yesterday. If you missed it you can still catch it on YouTube. Which was your favorite part? The part where he did the "I-did-not-have-sex-with-Monica-Lewinsky" finger jab, or when he whined about how nobody understands him?

Tough call.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Catholic Guilt At Its Finest

The forecast for today in the Twin Cities is 100% chance of rain. High of 60 degrees. Kind of like yesterday.

So I open my email and what do I see? An update on our parish's Fall Festival, which is this weekend.

"PLEASE come and support Holy Family Church's Fall Festival during the day and evening.
I know the weather is not ideal, but so many people have spent many hours to put this on for you.
Also, the many volunteers that spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning setting it up in the rain."


Did you hear that? They spent all those hours just to put this on for YOU. In the cold, wet rain, yet. Just for YOU!

"You have to come and have a shredded beef sandwich. Do you know we have someone that spent all night getting the meat cooked and ready for you."

That's right. Someone slaved over a hot stove.
ALL.
NIGHT.
Just for YOU!!

"We have the Teddy Bear Band coming at 1:00PM to entertain your kids and if no one's there who are
they going to sing to?"

Sniff. Sniff. Stop. Stop. please....

"Gramma Bubbles is coming at 2pm to create balloon sculptures for you and your kids."

Sniff... I always wanted a balloon sculpture... every since I was a... (choke back sob) a kid...

"WE ARE MINNESOTAN AND WE CAN HAVE FUN IN ADVERSE CONDITIONS!!!"

Well, actually, I'm from Long Island. In adverse conditions we whine a lot. The conditions don't even have to be all that adverse, really.

But we'll go. It's either that or endure the "Minnesota Passive Aggression" (they call it "Minnesota Nice," but trust me, it ain't) reproachful glances for the next six months. Besides, there is this one other thing in the email:

"We need help in the Beer Garden to drink the beer and Margarita's. (There will be heaters in the tent if needed)."

As long as they have those heaters on, I'll be there.

Who Thought Of This?

What are they thinking over at the Minneapolis Star Tribune?

What are they THINKING?

What the hell is this stupid wallpaper thing they're making me look at before I can see the damn headlines??

It's 5:30 in the morning. I'm up to satisfy the newsjones that wakes me up too early. So I flip open my trusty laptop and, naturally, I turn to the Star-Tribune.

And what do I get? The ugliest ad I've ever seen online. And it takes up the whole screen. And it won't go away.

Bright blue background- I mean BRIGHT blue, the kind even my teenage niece would describe as "a little loud." Covered with row after row of what look like -- I don't know. Biscuits gone wrong? Something the dog gagged up? They're beige, anyway. And there's some little red do-dad on every one, looks like Walt Disney's signature.

It turns out it's an ad for some kind of auto service. The biscuits-gone-wrong are supposed to be cars (I think); the red script is the company's name. I have to look at it for about ten seconds while my beachball gives me that "you are my prisoner" spin. I can't get rid of the ad. I just have to wait.

I tried this twice. It happened both times.

I'm not going to try it again. Get a clue, Strib- ugly is no way to start the day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Plan At Last

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has invited representatives of Muslim countries to meet next week at his summer residence, the Vatican said Friday. (NYT)

This is a terrific idea. The pope's summer residence, DIH happens to know because she's been there, is perched on the rim of a really deep volcanic lake. Moreover, the Swiss Guard are armed with long, pointy halberds.

One false step from these guys and...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chavez Es Un Maricon! ( or "Chavez Is A Bounder!")

What the media said Chavez said:

"The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Right here," Chavez said as he stood at the U.N. podium where Bush spoke the day before.

"It smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of," Chavez said.

What he actually said:

"The word he used to describe the smell was not 'sulfur'. It was the Spanish slang
word for feces, "sucio", meaning that which is dirty. All his homies will know it as "crap" but more derogatory. Most commonly used, for example, in Mexico, for caca. As in "el sucio de los ninos", when
changing diapers, or when referring to a horrible sight, be it a terribly failed
dish form the kitchen, or the upchuck of a drunk.

"In other words, it was extremely insulting. "Sulfer" was a classic sympathetic
translator's whitewash."

h/t Hordubal

"Rapidamente- donde esta el getaway car?"

CHAVEZ FLEES NYC; CUTS TRIP SHORT AFTER 'DEVIL' SPEECH
Thu Sep 21 2006 08:21:15 ET

"Fiery Venezuela President Hugo Chavez will 'wrap up' his controversial NYC visit early this morning to return home to Caracas, sources say.

"The president cancelled several appointments previously scheduled in NYC today including a second news conference he was to hold at Venezuela's United Nations mission.

"On Wednesday, Chavez, in a controversial speech in the UN General Assembly, mocked President George Bush repeatedly calling him 'The Devil'. "

(from Drudge)

Some Good News

From the Daily News:

"The material girl may have a falling out with the Peacock network.
It seems that creative differences over a controversial crucifixion scene in Madonna's current tour could spell the end for NBC's long-planned special on her concert.

"NBC programming officials are expected to ask Madonna's camp to cut the scene in which she's hung on a cross wearing a crown of thorns while singing "Live to Tell."

"Madonna's camp is expected to reject the change and then pull the show from NBC completely.

"A spokeswoman for Madonna said yesterday she would issue a statement, perhaps as early as today, about the special and the cross scene.

"A network spokeswoman said yesterday, 'NBC is awaiting delivery of the special. Once we see it in its entirety, we'll make a final decision.'"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Other (More Likely) Devil Candidates

The squirrels in my yard. Especially the little b*stard scampering away with a tulip bulb in his maw yesterday.

My contractor.

My high school driving instructor. Also all those State Policemen who gave me my first 75 road tests.

The inventor of the CD jewel box.

The inventor of Play-Dough. (Man, I hate that stuff!)

A certain blonde who shall go nameless.

Barney.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You Better Watch Yourself, Your Holiness!

Quote of the day:

"So now we know that the new pope is a parochial and intolerant man- but anybody who paid attention to Cardinal Ratzinger's pervious careeer knew that already. Now he is in a position to do much more damage." -some Brit journalist in taday's Star Tribune

Somebody tell that pope to stop burning effigies of Mohammed!

Somebody tell him he better not stone any more women to death, and if he shoots one more nun in the back he'll be sorry!

And if he tries bombing New York or London again, well, he'll be double-dog sorry!

Define "Inappropriate"

NBC PLANS MADONNA CRUCIFIXION IN TV CONCERT
Mon Sep 18 2006 18:38:19 ET

NBC has given the green light to include Madonna-on-the-Cross footage in an upcoming November Sweeps concert special!

In the show, Madonna, wearing a gittered crown of thorns, descends on a suspended mirrored, disco ball-type cross singing her hit 'Live To Tell.'

NBC suit Kevin Reilly said Madonna considered the crucifixion a highlight of her show.

"We viewed it and didn't see it as being inappropriate," NBC explained.

(h/t Drudge)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Oh, And By The Way--

This is what the University of Minnesota's website says about "The Pope And The Witch."


Written by Dario Fo
Directed by Robert Rosen
March 1–9, 2007

A wild send-up of Catholicism and politics by Italy’s Nobel Prize-winning farceur. In the Piazza San Pietro thousands of hungry children, the fruits of the Pope’s birth control doctrine, are crying for food. Meanwhile he contends with assassination attempts, Mafiosi, drug dealers, sinister bankers, and inept cardinals. Fo’s point is that it is easy for a rich church to rage against abortion when millions are born into poverty, and become victims of the drug trade, from which people under the Vatican’s protection can fill their pockets.

(http://theatre.umn.edu/onstage/mainstageshows/PopeWitch.php)

Light in Darkness!

Oh please, please, please go to today's Wuzzadem and click on the brilliant new device- the Gitmo Terro-Gator! See blogroll (right) for link!

And send those guys some money!

"I Got My Job Through The New York Times!"

Mohammed commanded his followers to spread his new religion "by the sword." Which is a) despicable and b) stupid- people just don't work that way. But even Mohammed , as far as I know, never said anything about shooting people in the back.

From the Daily News (h/t NRO):

"Here is the heart of what Benedict said toward the start of an oration that was devoted primarily to discussing how the Christian world has allowed reason to crowd out faith:

'He [the emperor] addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: 'Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'

'The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul....To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....'"


So who do we get to thank for the current mayhem? The idiots in the mobs, or the media who grabbed a sound byte out of context?

Shouldn't someone in the press have known better? Or is the joy of another headline- "Nun shot in back"- too hard to resist? Do our friends in the press care at all about what they're doing?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remember, It's A Religion Of Peace

Updated: 02:31 PM EDT


Italian Nun Shot Dead by Somali Gunmen
MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR, AP

Gunmen reportedly killed Sister Leonella and her bodyguard at the entrance of the hospital where she worked in Mogadishu, Somalia.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Sept. 17) - Two gunmen killed an Italian nun and her bodyguard at a hospital Sunday, and a security official for an Islamic militia controlling the capital speculated the attack was linked to worldwide Muslim anger over a speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

The nun, whose full name was not released, was shot in the back four times at the entrance to the Austrian-run S.O.S. Hospital in northern Mogadishu, said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, a physician at the facility, which serves mothers and children.

The head of security for the Islamic militia, Yusuf Mohamed Siad, said one man had been arrested and a second was being hunted. He said the killing might have stemmed from the uproar over the pope but stressed he didn't know for sure.

"They could be people annoyed by the pope's speech, which angered all Muslims in the world, or they could have been having something to do with S.O.S," he said. "We will have to clarify this through our investigation."

A Vatican spokesman called the nun's slaying "a horrible episode," the Italian news agency ANSA said.

"Let's hope that it will be an isolated fact," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. He expressed hope Muslim anger would ease following Benedict's explanation Sunday that the quotation he cited did not reflect his personal opinion about Islam.

The nun, who spoke fluent Somali, was believed to be around 60 and had been working at the hospital since 2002, people at the hospital said, insisting on anonymity for fear of reprisals. She taught at the hospital and also looked after children, said one doctor.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Big Surprise!

The University of Minnesota is rabidly anti-Catholic.

In March the theater department of the U of M will stage "The Pope and the Witch" by Dario Fo. Today's Pioneer Press reports that "Scenes include a paranoid pope convinced that thousands of orphans appearing in St Peter's Square are part of a plot by condom makers to embarass the church, a "crucifixion stroke," a witch who favors abortion and drug legalization [wild guess- that's a good witch, right?] and revelation of evil in the church hierarchy."

The President of the U of M, Bob Bruininks, defends the decision . It's all part of the free exchange of ideas he thinks, and as he wrote in a letter to the Catholic League last week, the U aims at a culture that is "free from racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice, intolerance or harassment."

[He did not add "except against those damned Catholics, at least not in the letter.]

The school's online promotion of the play is similarly even-handed. "Fo's point is that it is easy for a rich church to rage against abortion when millions are born into poverty, and become victims of the drug trade, from which people under the Vatican's protection can fill their pockets."

So now we know- the church opposes the slaughter of millions of helpless babies because it needs them to be its drug slaves! Thanks, Golden Gophers!

Something tells me I'll be writing more about this.

Other Things He Could Have Said

Pork tastes pretty good.

Burquas are unattractive.

Chopping off people's hands, stoning them to death, etc. is wrong. Just plain wrong.

The rioters should show up any minute now.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Media 101

OK, everybody, our class in media studies begins now. Today's reading come to us from our friends across the pond.

"BBC did not know of 9/11 film's link to religious right"

[http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,,1871149,00.html]

David Leigh
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian

The BBC broadcast a controversial docu-drama, The Path to 9/11, this
week without realising that it had been made by a member of the US
religious right.

[Come on, they weren't wearing their "Members Only" tee shirts? They always wear those! Who are you kidding, BBC?]

The three-hour programme, shown over two nights on BBC2 to
commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attack on the twin towers,
was purchased from ABC, a subsidiary of Disney. At the last minute
the US television company was forced to re-edit sequences after
claims of distortion from former president Bill Clinton and members
of his administration.

[Plus the threatening letter from Bill's lawyer helped.]

A BBC spokesman said the organisation did not vet film-makers on
their political or religious beliefs...

[...as is their usual practice."- oops. forget I said that.]

The film's director, David Cunningham, is active in Youth With a
Mission (Ywam), a fundamentalist evangelical organisation founded by
his father, Loren Cunningham. According to its publications, the
group believes in demonic possession, spiritual healing and
conservative sexual morality.

[Oh no. Not "conservative sexual morality!" The end of civilization is at hand!]

Last month David Cunningham addressed a conference in England
organised by the group at its UK headquarters in Harpenden,
Hertfordshire, on the making of the film. His talk was entitled
Christ-like Witness in the Film Industry.

According to one of the group's publications,"David and his wife Judy
are the nucleus of an association of more than 40 Ywam alumni who are
called to the communications industry in the Los Angeles area ... to
create an independent film company whereby he could both influence
the Hollywood film industry and produce major motion pictures that
would carry a Biblical, values-based message".

[40 people. My God. They're a regular army. Imagine the influence they must have in places like Hollywood! It's scary, my friends, very scary.]

Speaking from the Harpenden HQ, where would-be "disciples" pay more
than £2,000 for six-month courses, the missionary organisation's
international chair, Lynn Green, said that Mr Cunningham's influence
in the film was limited. "He was hired by Disney to direct. He was
not the screenwriter".

[1. How much is £2,000 in real money?]
[2. I have to admit it's fun to read that a director had "limited influence." Writers rule! Just kidding.

But in the US, protesting Democrats have seized on the involvement of
the religious right in the project to allege a political plot to
blame Mr Clinton for the triumph of Osama bin Laden.

["allege a political plot to blame Mr. Clinton"? So now theories are "plots"? Where are those damn thought police when you need them?]

One original fictionalised sequence depicted Mr Clinton's national
security adviser, Sandy Berger, refusing permission in 1998 for the
CIA to capture Bin Laden. Another showed Mr Clinton distracted by his
affair with Monica Lewinsky.

[And that bit about being distracted by Monica is total fiction! He was NOT distracted by that woman, Ms. Lewinsky! He was reading documnts the whole time she was-oh, never mind!]

In a letter to ABC demanding changes, Mr Clinton said: "The content
of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate." His
colleagues said it was "rightwing political propaganda".

[And you know how eager ABC is to broadcast that kind of thing.]

ABC originally gave the impression the film was a historical
reconstruction of the official 9/11 commission report, saying the
film "uses this historic document as the basis for a powerful story".

But yesterday, the BBC said it had warned at the start of the
programme: "The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and
narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalised scenes."

[They had to borrow the warning from Michael Moore, who was not using it that day.]

The film, as eventually transmitted, had been politically even-
handed, the corporation said. It drew a relatively modest audience of
up to 2.8m, but was seen in the US by 13m viewers.

[Now there's a buzzkiller for you. It was actually even-handed? After all that buildup? Talk about burying the lead, guys!]

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OK, OK....

...I'll play the meme game. Thanks, Georgette (http://Chonicles of a Meandering Traveller):



Five things in my freezer:

homemade marinara sauce
homemade meat sauce
homemade lentil soup
homemade pesto sauce (in ice-cube trays- you can use as much as you need that way)
mint chip ice cream

Five things in my closet:

fleece robe
summer robe
dress my daughter wore as a flower girl in July
clothes I don't wear any more
laundry baskets

(Is this anybody's idea of interesting? Good Lord...)

Five things in my car:

rosary
flashlight
daughter's car pool number
map of Twin Cities to settle arguments with the spouse
map of Northern Virginia- for old times' sake

Five interesting things in my backpack:

I am way past the "backpack" stage of life.

Five people I tag:

Erin, Ray, Joke, Maggie, Barb
(let's see who's really reading this...)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Is Someone Channelling Jimmy Carter?

From AOL news:

Attack Foiled at U.S. Embassy in Damascus
Three Militants, Syrian Security Officer Killed; Chinese Diplomat Among the Wounded
By ALBERT AJI, AP


DAMASCUS, Syria (Sept. 12) -- Armed Islamic militants attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in a bold attack Tuesday using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the government said. Syrian security forces killed three of the attackers and no Americans were hurt.

The attackers apparently did not breach the high walls surrounding the white embassy compound in a diplomatic neighborhood of Damascus. But one of Syria's anti-terrorism forces was killed in the attack and at least 11 others were injured including a local embassy police officer, two Iraqis and seven workers at a nearby technical workshop, Syria's official news agency reported.

Witnesses also said the gunmen shouted "Allah Akbar," or "God is great," as they tried to throw hand grenades over the embassy compound's walls. It was not clear if any of the grenades made it over the walls, which are about 8 feet high.


Any questions?
Or does everyone understand now that "Allah Akbar" actually means "Murder, mayhem and misery for all mankind!"

Seriously- is everyone clear on this?

What else has to happen before people get it?

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11

Where were you when the planes hit the Towers?

I was in California, at a resort near Lake Tahoe with my husband and the baby we'd brought home from Cambodia just ten days earlier. We were there for a conference. I remember I woke up ridiculously early, around five. At the time I attributed it to still being on East Coast time. Now I'm not so sure.

I tiptoed out of the bedroom so as not to wake Richard or baby Sophia. I remember looking at the huge TV in our sitting room. wanting to turn it on but unwilling to make any noise. So I sat there, staring at the blank screen. I felt like I was waiting for something.

The something came in the form of a phone call from one of the conference managers. "There's been this huge terrorist attack!"

I got on the phone and tried to call my family in New York. I needed to find my brother , who worked in the city for an investment house. But no calls were going through.

We went down to the conference command center, where ten or fifteen New Yorkers were gathered around the TV screen. The news was confusing and devastating. The room was virtually silent, except for the drone of the TV and the occasional person wondering aloud where their roommates/boyfriends/sisters were, trying to keep the panic out of their voices.

I must have started hyperventilating or something, because all of a sudden I realized I needed some air. I put Sophia into a stroller and took her for a walk on the woodland paths near the hotel. I thought, Ten days ago I brought this child out of Cambodia so she could have a better life here. Now I can't even promise her safety?

They cancelled the conference. They had to, since no flights were being allowed. The huge resort was like a ghost town, with only a handful of people drfiting through its lounges and passageways. Everyone talked in whispers.

Church services were organized. We knelt together in a small rustic church that usually had only vacationers as its congregation. We sang God Bless America. We cried.

The next day we were able to call New York. My brother and all my family were fine; one friend had had a close call, late for work and just getting off the subway when the first plane hit, a couple of blocks from her office when she saw the second plane strike the other tower. In the coming week I would learn about friends who weren't so lucky. We all did. And we all grieved.


9/11 is a day everyone who lived through it will remember the same way they remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, or when the Great Blackout hit New York. I know that I cannot forget the devastation of that day, or the realization that came afterwards: that we were at war with an enemy who refuses to show himself until he was slitting the throats of helpless flight attendants, or murdering fathers and mothers and children.

There is one other thing about that day that will live in my memory until I have no more memory left. In the conference office we stood around the television in a big semi-circle, our eyes glued to the screen, our ears straining for any new information, any sign of hope. Suddenly one of the staffers cried out. "Hey!"

He pointed.

Across the empty space of the semi-circle, on the carpeted floor of the conference room, Sophia Teresa Vigilante was taking her first steps.

I had my sign of hope.

God never gives up, people. And neither should we.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

He Was Shocked- Shocked!

SOSD: ROMULUS, Mich. – A man with a one-way ticket to Yemen attempted to board a plane with a knife hidden in a book, authorities said.

Mohammed Ghanem, 21, of Hamtramck, was jailed Saturday on $500,000 after being arraigned on a charge of possessing a weapon in the sterile area of an airport. Ghanem was arrested Thursday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after Transportation Security Administration officers detected the knife “artfully concealed” in the book, airport spokesman Michael Conway said.

Someone had carved out the inside of the book and placed the knife inside it, said Ghanem’s attorney, Nabih Ayad. “He said he didn’t know where the knife came from,” Ayad told the Detroit Free Press.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Ghanem was born in Yemen, a republic bordering Saudi Arabia whose 18 million residents are primarily Muslim. He is now a legal permanent resident of the United States and was returning to Yemen to get married, Ayad said.

Ghanem works as a busboy and lives in Hamtramck with family members, but he had a one-way ticket to Yemen, authorities said.

h/t wuzzadem

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lights, Camera....

Everyone else is writing about ABC's docudrama about 9/11, so I guess I should too.

By now the whole blogosphere has heard that Bill Clinton's lawyers are demanding ABC pull the doc because it depicts our glorious former leader in an unflattering light.

There are several different ways to approach this topic.

The first, of course, is the old "imagine-if- [insert conservative or even just plain Republican pol's name here]-did-the-same thing-the press-would-be-up-in-arms" complaint.

The second is to imagine what tv would be like if "if it can't be fixed it must be nixed" became a new industry standard. "Dear Mr. History Channel. I don't like the way you portrayed my great-great-great-great-cousin -twice removed. I demand you pull your damaging docudrama or I will sue you with all the resources at my disposal, and given how much my cousin stole- uh, I mean amassed, that will be plenty. Sincerely Attila the Hun XXXV."

The third, sadly, is to get real. These are the Clintons, people. Remember? Remember how President Bill gave his cousin a job in the White House Travel office so she could a) wreck the career of the man who'd been running it 20 years and b) hand all lucrative travel contracts over to Cousin Bill's Hollywood pals? Or any of the other lives that were destroyed merely by brushing up against those two?

Please. What exactly did we expect?

Monday is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I lost friends in those attacks- people I grew up with, went to school with, shared some really wonderful good times with. Neighbors of mine back home lost a lot more.

But why think about them? Let's all focus on how Bill looks.

I just don't have time for that guy any more.

Funny Money

My mother and her friends used to have an expression when discussing a particularly well-dressed or well-housed friend: "There's money somewhere."

It meant "We know this person. She does not have a well-paying job or a rich husband. But given her classy lifestyle, we must conclude she has a wealthy aunt or some other legacy hidden somewhere in her family tree."

"There's money somewhere" is the impression I have always attempted to convey. Okay, it's shallow. But it's fun. You'd be amazed how much mileage you can get out of a borrowed fur coat. I wore one to an inaugural ball once. They must have thought I was a donor.

On an apparently unrelated note (but stay with me, it all works out), my daughter started first grade this week. Last weekend I hauled her school uniform out of storage and ran it though the wash, etc. It's a cute little plaid jumper with a lot of navy blue and red. The women in the uniform shop told me it was the prettiest one they sold.

In my schooldays it was absolutely verboten to wear your uniform after school. You only had one, and you had to make it last-- not just for you but for the next two or three kids in the sibling line behind you. But times have changed, or so I've noticed. Many kids at my daughter's tiny Catholic school actually have more than one uniform to their name, and it's not unusual for the kids to go out shopping or running errands with their moms in all their plaid glory.

I have noticed, though, that there's an added benefit to taking Sophia out to the shopping mall in her school clothes. The sight of the uniform gives a lot of people. especially older women, a smile. "I hear plaid is in this fall!" one cheerful grandmotherly type said the other day. But more often I hear something like, "Look, honey- that little girl goes to Breck, too!"

Sophia's uniform, it turns out, is also worn by students at the Breck School, a private school here in the Twin Cities. The first few times I heard the comment I shook my head. "Holy Family," I murmured. But I've stopped doing that, ever since I found out how much dough it takes to send your kid to a place like Breck. Now I just smile and nod noncommitally. It's just too much fun to be taken for a woman with "money somewhere."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go borrow a coat.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Steve Irwin

I have to say I was shocked at the death last week of Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter." In his TV shows and even his silly (and quite funny) 2002 movie, he was such a wide-eyed, enthusiastic, happy-to-be-alive kind of guy that it's hard to imagine he's gone.

And suddenly,too: killed by a stingray's barb to the heart. Talk about a freak accident! I had a roommate once who used to worry about dying. Not that she was afraid to die: she was specifically afraid that she'd die in some ridiculous way and she'd look foolish as well as deceased. I guess Steve Irwin didn't think about that much. I mean, a guy who wrestles crocodiles, I can't believe he'd be too worried about an appearance of dignity.

I am not much of a naturalist. My basic philosophy about nature is "get it before it gets you." And don't kid yourself, it's out to get you. Killer bees, sinkholes, tidal waves- it's a jungle out there. And in the end it was nature that did Irwin in.

I will never again encourage my kid to touch the slimy stingrays at the aquarium. The stingrays can touch themselves from now on.

I will miss The Crocodile Hunter.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fairly Done

I finally did it. I went to the Minnesota State Fair.

I didn't go alone, of course. I went with the hub and kid, and we brought a native guide. Our friend Rachel is a State Fair fanatic. As we drove to the fairgrounds she bubbled on about all the things we just had to see- the Butter Sculptures, the Propane Exhibit, the Dairy Exhibition, she had a whole list. "We have to eat the cheese curds, and the french fries, and the roasted corn and the chocolate chip cookies and the corn dogs and the..."

I thought, no way. But then I saw how much we had to pay just to get onto the fairgrounds. After that I was determined to get my money's worth.

So. we did the Fair. Saw a calf being born -- this we had to watch on a video screen since we couldn't get close enough to the pen, but still. Saw cows and pigs and chicks and turkeys. Did the Butterfly House and the Giant Slide (actually Rachel did those, but I think she enjoyed herself). Saw the Ironjack Show and the "Imperial Knights," a cheesy jousting competition, but it was followed by a real horse show so it was okay. Ate some really disgraceful food. Got to much sun and a whopping headache..

Telling moment: Richard and I were sitting on a bench exchanges views on the extravaganza. Man sitting next to us: "So, you folks from Back East?"

But we did it. We went native. We stuck out like a sore thumb but we gave it the old Long Island try.

And we are proud.