Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Another Spoiler Alert

I have one word for Pixar's "Cars," which I saw today with assorted young relatives:


When you're in a theater full of kids on a hot summer afternoon and the whole place is stiff as a board, you know you're watching a dull movie. Even Jeremy Pivner (I hope I've got that right- you know, Ari from "Entourage") as the voice of the hotrod's agent couldn't cheer the place up. I remember reading how Disney postponed the film's release because the script was no good. They should have kept working.

It was too bad because I'm in a frame of mind to appreciate Steve Jobs again these days. Yesterday I went to the Apple Store at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, and it was fun again.

The last time I went to an Apple Store it was out in Minnesota. Man what a disappointment. Instead of the kind of staff I was used to - the Apple Store guys! those balding, late 20's-mid 40's guys who are really musicians or composers or screenwriters but love their Macs so much they just can't stay away from the stores and so they end up working in them- I kept getting high school kids. Instead of knowing interesting stuff about what was coming next in Mac-dom and talking about "vision" all they knew was what they had in stock and what they'd have to order. It was boring, no fun at all. And Apple Stores are supposed to be fun.

Right, Mac fans?

Monday, June 26, 2006


Despite being a guest on the East Coast for a couple of weeks DIH has continued her valiant efforts to finish her blasted Italy book. But things are not going so well.

I tried writing at home but gave that up after a couple of attempts. A five-year-old, three teenagers and two dogs (plus four adults, usually)) make for a lively amount of activity, especially with the World Cup on and all. Someone's always telling you to move away from the diningroom table or the kitchen counter because they want to do something like eat, or cook (thoughtless brutes). Or more kids come over and someone says Hey, let's go swimming and the next thing you know the whole backyard is screaming "Marco Polo" and there's the need to act responsible and make sure nobody drowns. How adult responsibilty does cut into one's day....

So I decided to take my trusty laptop up to the Barnes and Noble on Route 110 in Huntington and work there.

Another bust.

I prowled around the store searching for a suitable electrical outlet- trusty old laptop battery not being quite what it used to be- but in the whole store there were only two. There were lots of former electrical outlets, all covered with shiny new brass plates as if to say "we used to let people like you in here but not any more, nyah nyah."

So I waited until one of the two outlets was free. Then I plugged in, settled down and prepared to sweat out another writing session.

"I'm sorry ma'am but you can't do that in the store."
"You can't use that outlet. Store policy."

"Then tell me," DIH asked as patiently as possible, "why do you have a wi-fi cafe? How the hell is anyone supposed to use it?"

The clerk sighed. "That would be my question as well, ma'am , but it's store policy."

So now I either need a new battery, or another place to write. Or probably both. And I think I need a new bookstore, too.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A New Low

(This is the third time I've tried to post this.)

How much do we all love unmarked police cars?

You know, those cheapo sedans you can spot amile away. One side view mirror, death's pall-blue color, too shiny to be genuine. They don't really do any harm, do they? You see some white guy in a K-car eyeing you a little too closely, or rather pretending not to, and you slow down. No big deal, right?

Well your smug days are over, Mr City Motorist!

Last night tooling home on the Grand Central Parkway I sazw something so low I had to rub my eyes to be sure.

There they were, the sudden screaming siren, the convulsion-inducing flashing lights in the rear window of A YELLOW CAB.

That's right. A taxi. School bus yellow, fares posted in black on the driver's side door, I mean, it looked REAL.

OK, show of hands, please: How many of us, when we sense a b-----d NYC cab driver crowding in on us, do not hit the gas and get the heck out of there ASAP? Because you know that if you don't some guy with a carpet in his trunk and three words of English, none of them printable, is about to come bearing down on you like the wrath of Allah?

Cops disguised as cabbies. It's not kosher. Its entrapment. It's terrorism.

It stinks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One Down...

...one to go.

DIH is on the East Coast for two weddings. The first- DIH's baby sister's- is blessedly wrapped up.

It wasn't easy.

Two days before the wedding no one was sure if the groom's parents were both coming. Rehearsal is scheduled around them.

Rehearsal is rescheduled when it is announced they will both come. Set for 5:30 pm.

Exhausted, on-the-brink Matron of Honor (MOH)- another sister- announces she will have everyone back at her house for a cookout at 7pm.

Report comes in that car carrying bride's brother, sister-in-law and four nephews under the age of 12 has broken down somewhere on the south shore of LI. One of the nephews is the ring bearer. Who will not make rehearsal.

On the way to the rehearsal we all learn the real reason for wedding rehearsals: to make sure everyone can find the right church. We figured this out after we all showed up at the wrong church. Churches, actually. One was Methodist.

Find correct church at 6:15. Apologize for being so late. Groom's father still not there.

8pm: Father of the groom arrives.

10pm: family show up at MOH's house for cookout. Sister who spent two hours cleaning the deck (me) pissed off it's too dark to appreciate her efforts.

11:30 pm: groom's family, all Cubans, start doing shots of some strange clear liquor. MOH realizes they could be around all night. MOH has nervous breakdown.

1 am: guests depart.

6am: all up for hairdresser. Hairdresser is a cross-dresser. Men in family warned if they say ONE WORD they're all dead men.
Car swap arranged for bride's brother and family. Also mechanic located.

8am: another nephew has shouting match with mother (MOH). MOH has second nervous breakdown.

10:35 am: depart for church.

11 am: Wedding goes off pretty well, considering. Flower girl has sudden attack of stage fright. Mom (DIH) ends up walking down aisle scattering rose petals as small child drags on her elbow.

Best new piece of wedding wisdom is from the bride's brother:

"You know what's great about bringing four kids to a wedding? Extra champagne."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

From The Academy

DIH is abashed to admit she's behind the times on young men's fashions.

Walking into my sister's kitchen Friday morning I was greeted by my nephew. He was wearing what I took to be an interesting fashion statement: blue button-down Brooks Brothers shirt and wild orange shorts.

"Are you going to school like that?"
"Um, Aunt Sue, these are boxers. I'm just waiting for my pants to come out of the dryer."

My nephew attends a Catholic boys' high school. I knew they had a dress code, but hey, high school was a while ago, I though maybe it had changed.

"It has. We dont' have to wear coats and ties this week. It's exam period."

Trousers and long-sleeved shirts are still required. Presumably so the boys can sweat.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Poor Patrick, Again

For perhaps the first time in his life, Patrick Kennedy did not get his wish.

Alas, in the aftermath of his midnight car wreck in front of the Capitol, Patrick will not be "treated like any African-American from Anacostia," as he so heartwrenchingly put it to the press last week. Instead, he will get off with reduced charges and a slap on the wrist.

If I were an Anacostian I'd be out there protesting right now. Or better yet- next time one of you from the 'hood gets pulled over for DUI, demand to be treated like a spoiled rich white kid who's a Congressman! Patrick will no doubt rush out to defend you!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Who You Gonna Call?

Reading my parish bulletin again. As always, yet another item ends with the same words:

"Any questions? Call Sharon."

I have no idea who "Sharon " is. But as near as I can tell, every pain-in-the-ass question in the universe gets addressed to her.

"Help us out with our Parish Blood Drive! You need to be in reasonable health and not grossly overweight. Any questions, call Sharon."

"Annointing of the Sick will take place the Tuesday. The first grace of this sacrament is to one of strengthening to overcome the difficulties of old age. Also, as the Catechism states, 'if he has forgiven sins, they will be forgiven.' Call Sharon if you have questions."

[I swear. I only edited that one a little. Seriously.]

Sharon gets to handle questions on everything from weekly devotions to the annual men's retreat (also known as a "poker weekend"). She answers travel questions in a parish that sponsors everything from pilgrimages to Lourdes to big game fishing in Alaska. (They're leaving July 17, if anyone's interested. Bring your own tackle if you like.) Need to book the parish hall? Need to sign your kid up for firearms safety? Need to fire off a few rounds yourself? Call Sharon.

I've never met the lady. but from what I've read, I've determined that she is either a) preternaturally patient or b) heavily armed.

Having met some of the people Sharon gets to deal with, however, I'm going with option (b) for now.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Farewell To Camelot

Patrick Kennedy has left Minnesota and returned to the East. He says he's looking forward to serving the people of Rhode Island. He's probably looking forward to a lot of things, like no more whiz quizzes for a while.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that a Republican congressman with similar substance abuse problems has reached out to help poor little Patrick stay clean and sober This same comgressman reports that although he's been working the program for 20 years, it never dawned on him that Patrick had a problem. So much for the wisdom of recovery.

Patrick said in a public statetment that the next time he's arrested for DUI he wants to be treated like any guy from Anacostia, DC's notorious ghetto. Really. He wants to. He really, really does.

Like I said-- does anyone want to buy a bridge?

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Child's Summer In Minnesota

School let out today, and I am still trying to find a daycamp for my five-year-old.

I had high ideals at first. I thought I could make her summer a rich culturral experience. A language camp, maybe, or a kids' computer camp.

But I've been going through the free "Camp Guides" you can pick up in coffeeshops. and I'm adjusting mys sights somewhat.

Some of the rich offerings available to kids here in the North Star State:

"Fly Fishing and Conservation" camp.
The kiddies practice being predatory tree-huggers.

" Forkhorn" camp.
A forkhorn is a type of deer. (I had to look it up.) They promise to teach the kids how to hunt one down and kill it.

"JJ's Summer Jam"
"Give your kid an adrenaline rush!" I am not making that up. That's actually the ad copy.

"Camp Voyageur"
"A private camp for boys next to the Boundary Waters. We specialize in wilderness canoeing."
Probably because there's nothing but wilderness for a hundred miles.

"Audubon Center of the North Woods"
"Get close to wolves! Handle live birds of prey!"
In New York we call this "the subway."

"Mounds Park Academy"
"Investigate a crime scene. Go camping. Learn Chinese."
Be the first kid on your block to go on a Chinatown stakeout!

"Camp Suds-A-Lot"
"Your child will learn the art of creating fine hand-crafted beer."

OK, I made that last one up.

She's too young for most of the camps in the catalog. She'll probably spend some time at the camp she went to last year, the one affiliated with her pre-school. That one had the flags of the Israeli Army divisions hanging in the rec hall. Maybe this summer they'll do some serious training. Or maybe they'll call in some Mossad scouts...