Monday, July 31, 2006

A New York Moment

The scene: outside the Church of Our Savior, 38th and Park, last Monday morning. A black-clad crowd milling around in front of the church, watching the pallbearers load my mother-in-law's casket into the hearse.

Suddenly DIH feels a sharp pain in her ankle. She looks down. She sees the outraged face of a toddler. The toddler is sitting in a stroller, which has just been rammed into DIH's ankle.

DIH looks up. The same outraged expression on the very similar face of the child's mother, pushing the stroller. The mother is clearly put out by the people who are crowding what is, in her opinion, her sidewalk.

Outraged Mother: EXCUUUUSE ME!

DIH: (In disbelief) Lady-- this is a funeral.

Outraged mother: [storming off] Hmph!

I watched the two of them head uptown. I wondered if the O.M. might have had any misgivings.

Probably not. That's New York.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Drunken Celebrity Smackdown!

PATRICK: smashed car into U.S. Government property.
MEL: Speeding on a highway.

PATRICK: "How dare you- I am a United States Congressman!"
Mel: "I am so f----d."

PATRICK: "I'm late for a vote!" [with Congress out of session]
MEL: "Huhhhh? Whahhhh.... echhhh..."

PATRICK: No Breathalizer test.
MEL: Given Breathalizer test on the scene.

PATRICK: Chauffered home by U.S. Capitol Police.
MEL: Cuffed and taken to jail in squadcar.

PATRICK: slapped on wrist.
MEL: will probably get a lot more than that.

NEW YORK TIMES ON PATRICK: "This poor troubled lad, the family curse, etc."
NEW YORK TIMES ON MEL: DIH can hardly wait.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More HusbandSpeak

Wife's translations provided.

HusbandSpeak: I'm cutting the curve!
Translation: So I'm driving on the wrong side of the road- what's it to you?

HS: There's plenty of gas. Stop worrying about it.
T: Do you have your cell phone/Triple-A card? because I lost mine...

HS: They're a very interesting group of fellows.
T: I did all the talking.

HS: No, really, you look great.
T: I'm smarter than I look.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So how hot is it where you live?

Here in the North Star State it's so hot nobody even remembers the winter of 1880. And that October blizzard a few years back? Fuggedahboutit. Gone from the collective memory.
Actually today it's pretty nice outside, after yesterday's dramatic thunderstorms. You can actually leave the house and not wilt. The hot yoga joint seems hot again. I've stopped obsessing about hydration.

And started obsessing about the hurricane season.

Anybody else see the headline? "Beryl Could Ruin Vacations?"

I say no chance. My vacation isn't until late August, and that is when I predict the really destructive hurricanes will hit the Carolina coast. We of course always time our vacations to coincide with the height of the hurricane season. I mean, come on- where's the fun otherwise?

But I can't complain. We've only been evacuated once. And we caught a break on that, too- we were out at lunch and a bunch of volunteer firemen came in and ordered a suspiciously large amount of takeout. We had just enough time to pack our bags and hit the road before the traffic got too bad. Of course we forgot a few critical items and tried to go back for them but the National Guard didn't think that was such a good idea, so we drove on.

Yes, hurricanes certainly liven up one's holidays. Last year we managed to hit the beaches in the lull between a couple of major storms. Bo-ring! I mean, sure, the surf is too rough to swim in and the swamps are high and the gators go strolling on the golf course. But that's a pale second compared to the excitement of watching the Weather Channel.

Friday, July 14, 2006

And They Wonder Why The Homeschool Movement Is Growing

Article in today's NYT (needs a new name, by the way. New York Tripe? Truthiness? Any suggestions?):

"This is how the 2005 edition of “A History of the United States,” a high school history textbook by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin and Brooks Mather Kelley, relates the cataclysmic attacks of 9/11 for a new generation of young adults:

“'In New York City, the impact of the fully fueled jets caused the twin towers to burst into flames. The fires led to the catastrophic collapse of both 110-story buildings as well as other buildings in the area. The numbers of people missing and presumed dead after this assault was estimated to be 2,750.'”

"The language is virtually identical to that in the 2005 edition of another textbook, “America: Pathways to the Present,” by different authors. The books use substantially identical language to cover other subjects as well, including the disputed presidential election of 2000, the Persian Gulf war, the war in Afghanistan and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security..."

"Wendy Spiegel, a spokeswoman for Pearson Prentice Hall, which published both books and is one of the nation’s largest textbook publishers, called the similarities “absolutely an aberration...

"She added that it was “unfortunate” that the books had identical passages, but said that there were only “eight or nine” in volumes that each ran about 1,000 pages."

"'Only eight or nine"? Gee, I wish I'd known that was an acceptable academic standard back in the day. "But Professor, I can't help it if Aristotle and I think along identical lines! Besides, I only used eight or nine of his arguments!" That would have come in pretty handy come term paper time.

You have to wonder if mainstream publishers have woken up yet. One word, Prentice Hall: in-ter-net. Remember poor little Miss Viswanathan? Plagiarism has shorter legs than it used to thanks to a nation of bloggers, webmasters, and every other aspiring culture-influencer with time on his hands.

DIH included.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I Honor The Divine Within You. You Personally, On The Other Hand, Are Another Story.

I went to my first "bikram yoga" class" last week. That' s the kind where they heat the studio to 104 degrees. Supposedly this is meant to simulate weather conditions in southern India, so yoga practitioners can get that authentic third world experience. Everyone strains through the poses, guzzles bottled water and sweats like a rain forest. It's a bonding experience.

I went to my first class while I was still back on the East Coast. Even though it was sweaty and slippery, not two of DIH's favorite conditions, it was quite exhilarating. You sweat through 90 minutes of yoga poses and you feel like you can do pretty much anything. So when I got back to Minneapolis I looked up a studio. I went over there yesterday to pick up a schedule but they were closed. They're supposed to be open every day but they were having a special party - I think somebody had been reincarnated or something- so I am going to try again tomorrow.

OK, OK, I should have tried today. I should have gotten up at 5:15 and hauled myself over there for the 6am class. A better person than I would have done that. (Why does becoming a better person always seem to involve getting up earlier?)

The traditional greeting in yoga class is "namaste," meaning "I honor the divine within you" or variations on that phrase. It's actually a good reminder, when the fat guy next to you is flinging bodily fluids your way, that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Not an easy thing to remember sometimes. But the only path to a decent life.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

You Said It, Prince.

I say we will have no more marriages!
(Hamlet, Act III, scene i.)

After attending two family weddings in two weeks, DIH is with Hamlet on this one. She hereby requests that no other members of her family get married this summer. If anyone insists on jumping the broom anyway, she respectfully sends her regrets.

The weddings were lovely, of course, and the events were joyous, I'm so happy for them, yadda yadda yadda. Also it was a rare opportunity to view the latest in wedding fashions.

Especially during the photo session for one of the weddings.

Before the ceremony on East 91st Street we were all bused over to the Central Park Conservatory for pics. The Conservatory is a wildly popular spot for wedding pictures. The gates and the gardens are pretty irresistible, and brides and young Hispanic girls celebrating their quinceaneras sign up for reservations by the boatload. As we waited our turn at the gate- there are always photo sessions going on there in the summer and you basically ave to wait in line for your turn under the arbors- we had a chance to compare our party's duds to everyone else's.

This is actually not a very interesting passtime, even for the fashion-conscious. After the first few gowns they all start to look alike- you get kind of "snowblind," as they say in the wedding biz. But I was intrigued by one wedding party. The bridesmaids wore strapless satin gowns with full, poofy skirts. The satin was a soft beige, not in itself very eye-catching, but each girl carried the most exquisite bouquet of pastel roses. A couple of the blooms in each bouquet matched the color of the dress; the rest were soft peaches, pinks and and ivories. The whole effect was quite delicately pretty. It would have been perfect except for the tattoos.

It was hard to take my eyes off the bridesmaid with the large, angry dragon coiling over her shoulder, or the snake writhing its way up another girl's forearm. Now there's an accessory I bet the bride didn't count on. Can't say I've seen it in many issues of "Bride's Magazine," either.

Tattoos. Sheesh. I'm all in favor of personal expression, but can anyone say "lack of foresight"?