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.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hole in the Head

Ray Nagin: the gift that keeps on giving!

(CBS) Confronted by accusations that he’s taking too long to clean up his city after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin defended himself by remarking on New York City’s failure to rebuild Ground Zero.

Nagin made the remarks in an interview conducted by CBS News National Correspondent Byron Pitts which will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. EDT.

On a tour of the decimated Ninth Ward, Nagin tells Pitts the city has removed most of the debris from public property and it’s mainly private land that’s still affected – areas that can’t be cleaned without the owners' permission. But when Pitts points to flood-damaged cars in the street and a house washed partially into the street, the mayor shoots back. "That’s alright. You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed and it’s five years later. So let’s be fair."

I love this guy. Really. Just when you think he's topped himself, he gets out there and shoves his foot in his mouth again. Is there a fan site somewhere? Maybe I should start one. It could be inspirational.

(h/t Drudge)

Monday, August 21, 2006

And Speaking of the Dixie Chicks...

From today's Hollywood Reporter:

Aug. 22, 2006

Weinstein Co. buys Dixie Chicks docu

By Gregg Goldstein

NEW YORK -- Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's politically charged documentary "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing" has been picked up for worldwide distribution by the Weinstein Co. A release is tentatively scheduled for the fall, possibly right before the November elections.

The film revolves around the aftermath of singer Natalie Maines' statement at a 2003 London concert, where she said, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

(The Dixie Chick appeared here in the Cities recently. Four years ago they sold out 40,000 seats. This year they barely scratched 10K.)

Just so you know, girls- you can either a) shut up or b) sing.

You can't do both.

It's one of those basic human body things.

Bummer how reality does that, huh?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

25 Years

The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) celebrates its 25 anniversary this month. EWTN is the flagship of Catholic networks. So this is a big deal.

I have to say as far as great television is concerned EWTN has a ways to go. A lot of its shows are at best borderline, and quite a few of them are frankly lame. I remember they used to have a children's show in the late afternoon. A plump woman would sit in a rocking chaird, holidng a teddy bear while she interviewed someone. That "someone' was usually a skinny, scrofulous scholar with as much media appeal as Olive Oyl. I often wondered if anyone other than me was watching.

Then there's the Christmas music. A couple of years ago EWTN started featuring a little family singing group. Four or five sisters with their hands clasped, singing obscure motets. ( I used to sing them myself, so I say "obscure" with all due affection.) The trouble was a) they weren't especially good and b) with their long straight hair, mid-calf jumpbers and flat,s ensible shoes they looked like refugees from some Utah child marriage cult. If EWTN wanted to scream "We are not MTV" they couldn't have done it any louder.

But I just watched a special episode of "The Journey Home,' Marcus Grodi's weekly interview wtih people who found their was either into or back to the Church. This show has itsw ups and downs too; I guess it's hard to find enough interesting reverts (dont' get me started on converts, they can never shut up).

But tonight was different Tonight Marcus hosted-- get ready--


Yes. Dion DiMucci. Dion! "Runaround Sue"! "The Wanderer"! I am talking the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here, people! I am talking music HISTORY!

But did they focus on Dion? God forbid. Dion shared the panel with two other reverts. One was that young bearded priest- what's his name, Father Sleeves-Rolled-Up- who hosts "Life On The Rock," an earnest but less-than-awesome show aimed at the sub- 30 set. The other was a radio apologist whose radio show is excellent, but whose TV personality is a little lackluster.

Even so, Dion was riveting. He had that Augustinian quality to him, that incredible genuineness, that reach-out-and-touch-him reality. And he had truly touching humility, as evidenced by the fact that he actually listened to those other guys, who weren't anywhere near as interesting as he was.

Over the past week there's been a lot of Cathoic radio time given to EWTN's anniversary, and what it means for Catholic media. The fact is Catholic media in general is pretty lame. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that someone is on the air explaining the catechsm and the Scriptures. I listen to those shows all the time. I like learning. What I don't like is the "Glenn's Story Corner" schmaltz, or any of the other "how to give a lousy sermon" workshops.

If the powers that be at EWTN had any sense they would be down on their knees begging Dion to host a show for them. Just imagine the kind of interviews he could offer. He could go through the whole Hall of Fame roster. Dion was Class of '89. So were the Rolling Stones. So was Aretha if I'm not mistaken.

I bet they'd return Dion's phone callls.

Oh please, EWTN, get a clue. Sign Dion and I promise I might even send you money.

But you gotta ditch the teddy bear lady, too.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Movie Thoughts

I can't believe I'm going to miss the opening of "Snakes on a Plane." Apparently the internet buzz on this masterwork is amazing. Unfortunately DIH will be in rural Wisconsin this weekend with no chance of a multiplex for miles.

So, I've decided to compensate by dashing off a few treatments for future phobia films. And here's the beauty part: all of these stories are TRUE.

"Asians in a Laundromat!" A lone launderer (one load of whites, two darks) sees smoke rising up through the floorboards of a decrepit laundromat in Elmhurst. She runs to the back for help, but, like robots, the employees only repeat a single phrase over and over again: "No English, no English, no English..."

"Ten-year-olds Negotiate!" "Give me that." "No." "Come on." "No." "Come on." "I said, No." "Come on!" "NO!" "Come ON!"

"Squirrels in the Attic!" A desperate homeowner is driven to the edge by the sound of scampering rodent feet. She calls Cooperative Extension in the middle of the night. "Oh, I'm sorry, ma'am," the voice coos. "But squirrels are Protected Wildlife. And now that we have your phone number, if so much as one furry friend is injured we will find you. Heh. Heh. HAHAHAHA!"

I'll be keeping a list, if anyone wants to contribute.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The Hollywood Reporter announced today that CBS has given a pilot commitment to an "exorcism-themed" drama. The pilot script is being written by Barbara Hall, who created the series "Joan of Arcadia." It will be executive produced by Hall and Joe Roth.

According to HR, "Details of the project, from CBS Paramount Network Television and studio-based Joe Roth Television, are still sketchy, but it is understood to revolve around exorcists and others who investigate supernatural phenomena."

DIH is happy to offer her services to Ms. Hall and Mr. Roth. She knows all about possession and demonic infestation, having witnessed many cases of it in her day. Examples (WARNING: not for the faint of heart):

"The Garage Door From Hell." Up and down, up and down for hours at a time. Especially on icy winter days. Spooky.

"Spontaneous Underwear." You exorcise the foul stuff from the bedroom floor, but IT KEEPS COMING BACK. Ditto Demon Dust Bunnies.

"The Eternal Writing Project." You swear you had three hundred pages, but the printer only gives you 50. (Printer possession, or phantom work? Not sure.)

And don't even talk to me about VCRs, the funny smell in the basement or the five pounds that reappear at will. My life is full of the devil's work. About time I found a use for it. Ms. Hall? Call me any time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Household Hints

From Mrs. V.

Before going grocery shopping, write a list. This gives you something to leave in the car while you wander around Costco testing your memory. This is especially important if you're over forty.

Buy one of those fancy electric toothbrushes. Slather it with toothpaste then turn it on before you stick it inside your mouth. Marvel at the intricate patterns spattered toothpaste makes on walls, mirrors, etc. (Yell at your family if they try this.)

If your central air conditioning fails during the next heat wave, drag an old window unit out of the garage and stick in in a window. Leave it on for a few days. All those Mexican guys who make a living sanding warped floors will say "Gracias."

If you decide to take a stab at the garden, make sure you're going for that "zen" look- a couple of well-placed rocks, a juniper bush and not much else. This is probably all you will have left anyway.

Throw a lot of stuff out. It's fun.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thought For The Day

"I'm not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it's very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I'd also say it's necessary for my ministry."

-Pope Benedict, in an interview with German television broadcast yesterday
(h/t Drudge)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Free At Last!

In light of the new security measures at our airports. DIH announces she is accepting investors in a company that will make us all rich as oil sheiks.

Why be encumbered by carry-on, anyway. Why be encumbered at all?

Announcing Jaybird Air.

We Americans are sick and tired of security checks we wouldn't need if we did some halfway intelligent profiling anyway. We're tired of having our time wasted with special random security checks for five year old girls travelling with their parents, like the one they pulled on my daughter last Christmas. We are fed up with overweight jerks confiscating the incredibly cool Swiss Army knifes we've had since we were twelve.

And now they want our lipgloss, too? Enough is enough!

Jaybird Air will set the traveller free from all that. JA will set the traveller freer than he or she ever dreamed of being. We will eliminate carry-on of EVERY stripe. You won't even have to carry on the clothes on your back, because they won't be on your back any more. Stroll through the metal detector with complete peace of mind, unless you've got one of those artificial knee things. Sit back in our heated cabins --we'll even provide towels so nobody gets stuck to his seat. Arrive at your destination with the stress-free cool that comes from knowing half the people in the airport will clear out of your way fast when they see who you've travelled with and why.

No more clothes, no more luggage, no more security delays. Just you and friendly skies.

Fly Jaybird.
Nobody checks our fluids.

Harry Takes Off

My nephew Harry goes home to NY today. He's spent the past five weeks here in Minneapolis, interning at his uncle's (my husband's) office. Not every fifteen year old gets to see an investment firm in action. He's a lucky kid.

We went out to dinner last night to celebrate his impending departure. (Oops- sorry, Harry, that didn't come out quite right.) Japanese food at Fujiya. We had fun.

We asked Harry what he thought of his experience. He conceded it was a good one, but didnt' say much more than that. I'm not sure if that's the teenager thing or the math-jock thing coming into play. Probably both.

The office aside, however, it was a delight to have him here. He is a pleasant, interesting person and his patience with his cousin Sophia is unbelievable. Tickle fights, spitting contests, GoFish, you name it, Harry was game for all. She will miss him terribly. So will I.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


OK, I gotta say this.

I took my daughter to see "Monster House" on Saturday. It's rated PG, and the previews looked cute- kids investigating a scary house, some really funny moments.

What a mistake it was to see this film, and what a huge mistake to take a five year old to it! What begins (slowly- it took a good ten minutes to get the story off the ground) as a cute, kids-must-be-heroes story about an allegedly haunted house in the neighborhood devolved into an ugly parable about victimization and vengeance.

SPOILER ALERT!! Plot details to follow.

The story is this: a boy on the verge of "puberty" (they use the word in dialogue several times- what talented screenwriters!) has been keeping an eye on the dilapidated house across the street. The house is owned by a notoriously nasty old man. Anything that lands on his precious lawn, he confiscates.

The boy comes to believe there's more to the story, and he and two pals realized the house is actually alive. They accidentally confront the old man. He has some kind of attack and is carted off in an ambulance. The kids think they've killed him.

Long story short; the kids get inside the house. They find, first, wedding photos of the old man and a very fat wife. Then, in the basement, they find the grave of the wife. Old man, not dead (duh) returns, tells the story: when he was young he fell in love with a fat lady in a freak show. He took her away from her miserable life, but she still hated kids. He starts building her a house, she attacked any kids who came near, she falls into the cellar-in-progress and is entombed in the cement. Her spirit possesses the house, the old guy tries to protect the neighborhood by scaring all the kids off. But since that's no longer working, he and the kids blow up the house.

So picture this: Saturday afternoon, kids in a movie theater, tiny voices piping up "What's puberty?" when they're not crying. Onscreen, one of the grimmest depictions of human nature and the afterlife in years. This is one movie that had no clue what it was doing or why, to say nothing of who their audience was. The nasty old man is voiced by Steve Buscemi, so there was at least one redeeming feature, and the comic sidekick was truly funny, so that's another. But that's it.

Give "Monster House" a miss.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Things Keep Fallin' On My Head....

Friday: chunks of neighbor's roof land in my backyard. No biggie, the guys are working on it.

Saturday: lightning hits huge oak tree in my front yard, splits it in half. It falls away from the house. (As my friend Rachel "La Dama de Las Vacas" said, "Someone's looking out for you guys.")
[DIH inspected the fallen limbs carefully. Not a single squirrel's nest. They were all still safely up in the tree, flipping me off.]

Monday: writing at favorite coffeeshop. CRASH. Scaffolding next to building (and right outside DIH's window) collapses.

This doesn't look good.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Guten Night.

There's a restaurant here called "The Black Forest Inn. Its slogan, judging from the lead sentence on its website, is "If you haven't been to the Black Forest Inn, you haven't been to Minneapolis."

I agree, there's plenty of food for thought right there. But that's not what interests me at the moment.

Yesterday I was driving through Uptown with my daughter and my teenage nephew. On a billboard overlooking the main drag, at the corner of 28th and Hennepin, there was a huge ad for the BFI. In thick pseudo-Germanic script a couple of feet high was the following sentence:

"No, strouganoff doesn't make you go blind."

Strouganoff, for the uninitated, is meat served in a slightly funky cream sauce. The rest of the ad was simply "The Black Forest Inn. Guten food."

DIH would like to take a poll: how would you describe that ad?

a) appetizing
b) juvenile
c) moronic
d) a new low in restaurant culture
e) a new low in culture, period

I suppose I could supply more choices, but I think that's enough for starters.

It's impossible not to speculate on the evolution of that billboard.

Idiot A: Hey, I got an idea. Strouganoff. Stro-gan-off. It won't make you go blind! Get it? Get it? Am I a riot, or what?
Idiot B: You're a genius!
Idiot C: I love it!
Idiot D: That's great, guys! Order up the billboard. This is gonna bring 'em in in droves! Strouganoff! Ha! Brilliant!

Do we all live in a cultural wasteland? Or is it just me?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sad Story

I wish there was something funny to say about Mel. But the whole thing is just too sad.

I guess I could lament Minnesota's one chance to have a celebrity of that magnitude in residence for, say, 90 days. (Does anyone know where Mel went for rehab?)

I could point out that for a 50 year old guy drunk off his a-- at 3 in the morning, he takes a pretty good mug shot. I never look that good, even cold sober after a great night's sleep. Sigh. It just isn't fair...

But I can't say anything like that. Because it's just too sad.

I just pray he recovers and cleans up his act. Which, incidentally, is what I pray for for most people.