Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here's A Suggestion: Try Not Breaking The Law For A Change

NEW YORK TIMES, Saturday December 29:

COALINGA, Calif. — When any of the 5,300 inmates at Pleasant Valley State Prison begin coughing and running a fever, doctors do not think flu, bronchitis or even the common cold.

They think valley fever; and, more often than they would like, they are right.

In the past three years, more than 900 inmates at the prison have contracted the fever, a fungal infection that has been both widespread and lethal.

At least a dozen inmates here in Central California have died from the disease, which is on the rise in other Western states, including Arizona, where the health department declared an epidemic after more than 5,500 cases were reported in 2006, including 33 deaths.

The disease has infected archaeologists digging at the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and dogs that have inhaled the spores while sniffing for illegal drugs along the Mexican border.

In most cases, the infection starts in the lungs and is usually handled by the body without permanent damage. But serious complications can arise, including meningitis; and, at Pleasant Valley, the scope of the outbreak has left some inmates permanently disabled, confined to wheelchairs and interned in expensive long-term hospital stays.

About 80 prison employees have also contracted the fever, Pleasant Valley officials say
...
The epidemic at the prison has led to a clash of priorities for a correctional system that is dealing with below average medical care and chronic overcrowding.

At Pleasant Valley, officials say the outbreak of valley fever places a burden on the institution, requiring guards to escort inmates to local hospitals, where stays can last months and result in medical and security costs of $1 million and more, said Dr. Igbinosa, the medical director.

The disease also affects inmate morale, doctors say.

Gilbert Galaviz was convicted of murder and is serving a sentence of 25 years to life. Mr. Galaviz had been at Pleasant Valley for a week or so when he started to feel sick. “I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “My chest starting hurting, I had pain all over like somebody beat me up, and I would sweat bad at night.”
After six months, Mr. Galaviz is still weak, having lost 30 pounds, and is barely able to complete a lap in the prison yard. Earlier this month, he was attacked and his jaw broken.

“It wouldn’t have been like that if it hadn’t been for valley fever,” Mr. Galaviz said, his jaw still wired shut. “They wouldn’t have got me. It would have been the other way around.”

That Settles It: No More Sun-Dried Tomatoes Before Bedtime

I had an exam-anxiety dream last night.

You know the kind of thing. You dream you're back in college, about to take a crucial exam. But then you can't get there, because waterfalls or tigers or in-laws keep getting in your way. Then you get to the exam and realize you never attended any of the classes, so you don't know any of the answers. Then you think, Don't panic- just fake your way through! But then you realize it's a mathematics exam, or a chemistry test, or something else you can't possibly fake the answers to.

At this point in the dream I usually get a letter from my alma mater, saying they're going to rescind my degree. Frantically I try to think of ways I can go back to college and finish up. Only as dawn is breaking does it dawn on me: hey, what does it matter any more? Who needs the B.A.? It never did me any good before, why should it matter now?

Then I wake up, and I realize, shuddering with relief, that it was only a dream.

Except last night. Last night was different.

I was in a classroom, about to take an exam.I had no worries about the exam, except one: Someday, I thought, the powers that be would discover how easy this class was, and they'd take back all the credits. But I was still pleased with myself at this point. Because how many Irish Catholics had the foresight to sign up for this gut of a "Native American Studies" class? Just me, baby!

Then it dawned on me. What the heck was I doing in a Native American Studies class? What, did I think it was going to get me a job? Instantly I saw my transcript before my eyes. It was full of things like "Native American Studies." And "Middle English," and "Church and State in the Middle Ages" and "Introduction to Medieval Canon Law." Oh my God! I gasp. Where was accounting? Where was business management? Where was How To Get And Keep Gainful Employment? Where was anything that might actually matter it the real world?

Desperately I tried to start over. I wrote letters, I sent emails: Please let me be a freshman again! I promise I won't do another stupid thing like sign up for "Catullus and Cicero" when what I really need is "How To Make It In The Real World Despite Being a Writer Type"! I beg of you! Give me another chance!

Then I woke up. And for the first time, that old "thank GOD! it was only a dream!" feeling just wasn't there.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eye Opener

I ran out of eye cream a few weeks ago. You know, the stuff women slather on- or, as the instructions suggest, "apply with a tapping motion"-- as part of the eternal quest to beat back the clock. I ran out, and I didn't get a refill. Too many other things to shell out one's bucks for this time of year.

Today, in the spirit of post-holiday frugality, I dug out an old jar of "Multi-Peptide Treatment: Eye Cream With Antioxidants." If memory serves I bought it last summer, used some of it then switched brands (somebody was giving out free samples). What the heck, I thought. I'll use this old stuff up and invest in a new jar in, oh I don't know, March, maybe.

Good plan, right?
The only flaw: I couldn't open the jar.

I ran the lid under hot water. I ran it under cold water. I banged on it with a heavy metal object. No dice.

I brought it downstairs to the spouse. "See if you can open this," I said.

Again, no dice. Many twists and grunts later the spouse scowled at the label. "It's the multi-peptides," he said finally. "If it were just one peptide I'm pretty sure I could kick its ass for you, but I can't handle a gang."

I began to wonder if I really wanted this stuff anywhere near my eyes. I mean, labels aside, experience was telling me it was some kind of super glue. Which I 'm nowhere near decrepit enough to use on my face, thank you. Yet.

I called the company. They said they couldn't help because the product is no longer sold in stores. "We're all online now," the young lady said. "Maybe if you called corporate, they could help you."

"No thanks."

[Note to self: File this under "On the internet no one knows you're a dog, Exhibit A."]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Murder In Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto was shot and killed in Pakistan by a man who then blew himself up, killing himself and some 20 other people.
According to the AP report,
"No one claimed responsibility for the killing. But suspicion was likely to fall on resurgent Islamic militants linked to al Qaida and the Taliban who hated Bhutto for her close ties to the Americans and support for the war on terrorism. A local Taliban leader reportedly threatened to greet Bhutto's return to the country from exile in October with suicide bombings."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Inspirational Schmalz

With the New Year looming DIH decided to do some soul-searching.

No. No. Let's be honest here. Let's rewrite that, with the truth.

Ever since the dog chewed the plug off the TV set and we were deprived of the Law and Order reruns that were a staple of our family life, DIH has found herself wandering onto the risky ground of soul-searching.

There. That's better.

On this Feast of St Stephen we are once again snowed in here in Minneapolis. The stuff is still falling, so anyone who thinks I'm going out there with a shovel yet can just sit back and wait. Take that, city ordinances.
So, having nothing better to do, DIH has begun the daily bit of soul-searching with the help of the Internet.

As I've mentioned earlier, DIH and a small group of hardy souls did a Bible Study course together last year. The course started out great, then kind of fell apart after lesson 12. Nevertheless we continued to gather and listen to the CDs because one of us had a killer cappucino machine and- um, because, uh, because we felt it was important to follow through.

We are about to embark upon a new course, this one a bit different. We think it will work out.

Just in case. however, I decided to do a little internet searching of Bible study courses, specifically those aimed at women.

And oh, dear God. What a wasteland.

Here's something called "Creative Ladies' MInistry." This is from their "themes overview:"

"Life In Christ—Good To The Last Drop: With coffee as an inspiration, this theme revolves around how having Christ in our lives can enrich our lives and the necessity of spending time with Him."
"In The Bag: With handbags and purses as an inspiration, this theme revolves around what we carry with us on a daily basis as a Christian woman."
"Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend: This revolves around being sparkly for Christ."

"Sparkly for Christ"? WTF?

But I can't leave out my favorite:

"The Wrinkle-Free Woman: With a starch can label as its inspiration, this theme can really be geared to a lot of different areas---Starch of honesty, Starch of faith, Starch of prayer, Starch of sweetness and kindness, Starch of concern and caring."

[Note to self- find out what a "starch can" is. Or don't, it probably isn't anything important.]

Then there's something called "Girlfriends Unlimited:"
"Make your church the place women connect... relax and refresh... share their hearts shape each others' lives."
They have a theme song! "Come on come on, girlfriend, let's have some fun grilfriend, you and me we can be a little bit crazy, don't you know God is amazing! Ooh, oo-ooh..."

Um... I'm gonna give that one a pass.

I gotta think about this. Maybe somewhere out there there's a womens' study and spirituality program that's right for me. Something with no "crafts," no polka-dots, and no goddam starch cans.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Again.

I posted this story a year ago at Christmas. I'm posting it again now, because I think that especially now, with teh primaryies a week away, it's a good story to bear in mind.

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 used by liberals referring to conservative women 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.

Heartwarming, If Problematic

The AP is running a beautiful story about how an American sodlier adopted a special needs Iraqi orphan.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071223/ap_on_re_us/saving_ala_a

The only problem now is protecting the child, who lives with his adoptive dad in Wisconsin, from Islamic extremists who decide to take issue with his name. (He named himself Ala'a, which means "close to God." Which has to be blasphemous or something, right?)
Let's hope Santa doesn't bring the kid a teddy bear.

h/t Powerline

Ace of Spades, Hacking Victim

Readers of Ace of Spades HQ will notice a nasty little Christmas gift from some half-witted hacker.

The comments column has been replaces witha string of obscenities and gibberish

http://ace.mu.nu/, if you want to sicken your day.

Once again, all you lovely leftie kids: get a job, or a life, or something.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Lists

Favorite Christmas/ Christmastime movies:
Die Hard; National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (I think those two tie for first place): A Christmas Carol (the one with Alastair Sim, Peter Bull et al); Holiday Inn; Millions; It's A Wonderful Life; A Christmas Story.

Favorite Christmas carols:
O Come All Ye Faithful; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Pueri Concinite (probably not technically a carol, but I love it); Sussex Carol/ On Christmas Night All Christians Sing; Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Favorite things I've eaten so far this Christmas season:
The spouse's spaghetti and meatballs; Julie Cline's Christmas cookie assortment; take-out from Tum Rup Thai.

Favorite things I still plan to eat this Christmas season:
Costco chocolate layer cake- ohhh, baby; good bread and butter. I love bread and butter and had to give it up (pretty much) when the Spouse went on Weight Watchers.

Favorite things I hope I get a good excuse to eat this Christmas season:
Costco's chicken pot pie. Mamma mia.

Favorite bit of home Christmas decoration:
I like my tree. And I like my wall clock, the one with the three snowmen that plays a different Christmas carol every hour on the hour.

Least favorite places at Christmas:
shopping malls, airports, the Long Island Expressway.

Favorite places at Christmas:
The adoration chapel at church; my sister's house on Long Island; any place with food, friends and a fire. And the fire is optional.

I Don't Know Why I Didn't See This Coming

"New York Times, Sunday December 23- MACY’S SANTALAND and the tree at Rockefeller Center notwithstanding, many New Yorkers are not celebrating Christmas. In addition to our sizable humbug community, they include Jews, Muslims, Hindus and members of just about any other non-yuletide-caroling religion you can think of. (Not to mention atheists.)

"So don’t limit yourself to St. Patrick’s and other Christmas standards. Why not visit the city’s other houses of worship, many of which are less crowded but just as open and welcoming to the public. Here are a few you can fit into a weekend.

"Mosques come in all shapes and sizes in the city, from converted basement apartments to elaborate domed beauties. But if you’re going to visit just one, try the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, a domed mosque on the Upper East Side that opened in 1991.

"Prayers are called five times a day, which makes it pretty easy to be there for one. Non-Muslims can observe from the side of the intricately tiled prayer hall on the first floor (or they can remove their footwear and enter). The times change with the seasons, but the midday prayer is at 12:30 in the winter and 1 p.m. in summer. It’s an accommodation to the American tradition known as lunch hour.

"The jewel of the mosque, however, is the grand domed hall on the third floor, punctuated by a circle of lights hanging low from the soaring ceiling. It is used regularly only for the Friday midday prayer; at other times you’ll have to ask if someone can open it for you. The center also welcomes non-Muslims to its Islamic Forum on Saturdays at 1 p.m."

Am I the only one who ever wonders if the Times is into parodying itself?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Can't Decide If I Should File This Under "Blonde Jokes" Or "Ice Fishing"

A blond wanted to go ice fishing. She'd seen many books on the subject, and
finally getting all the necessary tools together, she made for the ice.

After positioning her comfy footstool, she started to make a circular cut in the
ice. Suddenly, from the sky, a voice boomed,

"THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

Startled, the blond moved further down the ice, poured a thermos of cappuccino,
and began to cut yet another hole. Again from the heavens the voice bellowed,

"THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

The blond, now worried, moved away, clear down to the opposite end of the ice.
She set up her stool once more and tried again to cut her hole. The voice came
once more,



"THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

She stopped, looked skyward, and said, "IS THAT YOU LORD?"

The voice replied,

"NO, THIS IS THE MANAGER OF THE HOCKEY RINK"

h/t Carrie

Welcome Tony!

LONDON (Dec. 22) - Tony Blair, who often kept his religious views private while serving as Britain's prime minister, has converted to Catholicism , officials said Saturday.

Blair, who had long been a member of the Church of England, converted to the Catholic faith during a Mass held on Friday night at a chapel in London, the Catholic Church said.

"It can be confirmed that Tony Blair has been received into full communion with the Catholic church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor," the head of the church in England and Wales, the church said in a statement."

[h/t AOL]

Local News

A roundup from across the state. Enjoy.

"Ice conditions are improving after the heavy snowfall we received 2 weeks ago on the not yet established ice. Reports of up to 14 inches on some smaller shallow lakes but most lakes are still in the 8-12 inch mark. There is still some slush under the snow, but nothing to be concerned about. The walleye bite has been hit or miss with the unstable weather, but good reports of panfish bites have come in using minnows and waxworms."

Question: what the heck is a waxworm? NO, scrathc that- waht exactly is a walleye, anyway?

"We're seeing a lot more traffic on the lakes (only ATV, snowmobile, or foot) at this point. Reports are coming in from across the Metro Area, everywhere from out west in the Annandale Area all the way to St. Croix River, and everywhere in between. A lot people starting to get out onto their favorite first ice spots and fish getting caught! "

Question: caught doing what?

"Winter weather dominates the scene and is still making life difficult for anglers and spearing enthusiasts alike."

Spearers? They have spearers? Are any of them wearing loincloths?

"Walleye have been very active anywhere you can make a hole in the ice over six feet of water or more. Rattling type jigs have been producing well in the yet unsettled and slightly cloudy water. Look through your tackle box for reds, white and orange glow colors to dress up that minnow for the walleye."

But don't expect the minnow to dress up for you. You're not worth it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

From Our "The Mysteries of Christmas" Files:

Question: why are grown men impossible to shop for at Christmas?

Answer: because most men are like Miss Piggy. Who said it all when she said, "My needs are few, my wants are extremely expensive."

It all starts with Daddy. You're a little girl and you want to get Daddy something special. So you ask him, "Daddy, what would you like for Christmas?"

He replies, "Socks."

Show me one American father who has never requested socks for Christmas. I was buyng my father socks for years.

And why? Because when pressed for a different answer, it too was always the same: "Well, I'd like a Lamborghini, I guess."

Get that man another pair of socks.

Then you grow up and get married, and now you have a husband to buy for. The Spouse is a little more imaginative than my father when it comes to gifts, but not much. I could sit down and make a list of his favorite things right now. In fact, here it is.

Richard Vigilante's Favorite Things:

Paper towels. Automatic pencils (he has thousands). Waste baskets, the white plastic kind with the flip-up lids ( at last count we had seven). Brioschi (not as easy to find as it used to be). Underwear. Socks.

You can imagine how much fun it is to shop for a guy like that. Well, at least he's never asked for a Lamborghini. He makes noises about getting hold of a Mercedes some day, though.

That day will be some time past my own, I think.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm Not Endorsing, But....

...here's something else to like about Giuliani.

For over a hundred years St. Agnes Church in midtown Manhattan was a landmark for Catholic New Yorkers. Located a block from Grand Central Station, the place was God's gift to commuters: Feast day masses hosted thousands of churchgoers,daily masses hosted hundreds. On Ash Wednesday staff were posted at every turnstile in Grand Central, offering ashes to everyone who wanted them (and at New York speed, I might add). Confessions were heard for hours everyday- every day. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration every afternoon, with Benediction at 5 pm daily. DIH used to sing in a choir there.

Fifteen years ago, on December 10, 1992, St. Agnes burned down.

The news was a shock to the city. Newspapers and television covered the story for days. Here's one story from Sursum Corda magazine, summer 1998:

"It was an unseasonably warm December 10, about 2:30 in the afternoon, when office workers on the 32nd floor in the nearby Pfizer Chemical building first heard the insistent scream of fire engines. The sirens didn't stop. A thick smoke poured down the big avenue, down Second and Third, down 42nd Street, all emanating from the side street where St. Agnes has stood since 1873.

"At 2:30, Msgr. Clark was planning a benefit with two ladies over lunch, and they were lingering over dessert. Walking through Grand Central a few minutes later, he noticed the fire engines' incessant whine. the sound drew him to his home of many years. It was a four-alarm fire; firemen were everywhere. They allowed Msgr. Clark to dash inside to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament.

"There he found a most unlikely sight: Rudy Giuliani (now Mayor of New York), then working as an attorney in a nearby building, was wandering up and down the aisles looking for anyone who might have been overcome by smoke. He had already prevented two looters from stealing silver-plated candelabras."

There's just something about Rudy....

The Real One

">

This is the real ad. I like it. Especially the "wid'a big red bow."
Any bets on who's playing Santa?

Sorry about the double vision. Some glitch I can't figure out- yet.

Sabotage

Today's Drudge Report links to the holiday ads by all the major candidates- the ones they're going to run in Iowa and New Hampshire over Christmas. DIH watched all the ads, and concluded that Rudy Giuliani's was the only one worth watching. So, I decided to go to YouTube and link the ad.

It's cute, it's fun, it's got Rudy talking politics and fruitcake. And it was the only one that had Santa Claus, unless you count Hillary Clinton's offer of universal pre-K, which if Santa doesn't provide the taxpayer will have to. Anyone feeling like that much of a Santa Claus?

Then Rudy's ad was sabotaged.

The YouTube version of the ad has removed Rudy's holiday wishes from the soundtrack and substituted "you 're sick, you need help" over and over again- the point being, I guess, that anyone who supports Giuliani is a world-class sicko.

News flash, hackers: you're the ones with the problem. Get a job, or a life, or something. Heck, go back to school. And tell your mothers to take away your keyboards for a week.

Meanwhile DIH will search for the genuine ad and post it here ASAP.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

...And One of My Favorites

">" border="0" alt="" />
I love this number. I'd never seen the skit before, only heard it on CD. My husband, however, can act the whole thing out. He was a big Dino fan, ahead of his time- he was in grade school when this show was aired.

Merry Christmas!


"Straight No Chaser" of Indiana U. These guys are fantastic. h/tThe Anchoress

More On Lights

DIH is proud that she got her Christmas lights up early. And I did it without the help of "Christmas Lights, Inc." or whatever that company's called- the guys with cranes and cherry-pickers that prowl about my neighborhood seeking the ruin of utilities bills and bank accounts. Although I suppose if you're hiring ten guys with a crane to put up your Christmas lights, you're probably not too worried about your bank account.

No, I prefer to keep things simple. Simple, as in my childhood. When Christmas Eve meant us kids sitting on the floor in the livingroom, watching the lights blink on the tree as we twiddled our thumbs in the dark, waiting until it was time to go to Midnight Mass. We would have liked to have sat on the sofa, but my father was always stretched out on it asleep by ten pm. For me the gentle flickering of Christmas lights will always be bound up with the sound of my father's snoring. Ah, memories.

Driving my daughter to school in the early morning darkness, I admire some of the neighbors' lights. There are a few I don't quite get. One house has wavy strips of gold lights hanging from a dogwood. It looks like a bacon tree. Good news for the dogs, not exactly inspiring to the rest of us. Then there's the family next to the school, who a) thoughtfully leave their Christmas tree lit so the arriving kiddies can enjoy it but b) use those ultra-fast-flashing lights, the ones that make it look like the tree is having a seizure. Not exactly what a rattled carpooler needs first thing in the am.

I'm not sure how long my strands of Christmas lights will last this year. The dog seems to find them very tasty. I had to take her to the vet a couple of weeks ago for an x-ray. Her digestive tract was strewn with bits of chewed-up wiring. I've already had to yank down a few half-eaten strands. I just hope I still have a few left on the 25th.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kindlin'

We've all heard about the new Kindle device from Amazon. That little 10-oz. miracle that means we can carry our entire libraries in our tote bags, with none of the resulting nerve damage.

Well, DIH has decided to secure herself one.

This is not a decision made lightly. I had every intention of asking Santa to bring me a Tom-Tom or other navigational device to stick on my dashboard. DIH has no sense of direction and is perpetually getting lost. (Although I prefer to think of myself as the Highway Heraclitus: for all I know I've never driven the same road twice.)

So, navigational device was at the top of my Christmas list, Until I read about the Kindle. At $399. it costs about as much as a navigator, I think. But if I get the Kindle, at least I'll have something to read while I'm waiting for someone to come and find me, right?

Information about the Kindle can be found at

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/?tag=despeirishhou-20-20

And I swear, I SWEAR I will never ever ever make anyone cut and paste in the New Year! Resolutin #1! I promise!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stylin'

ROME (Reuters) - Italian film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli is offering his services to Pope Benedict as an image consultant, saying the German pontiff comes across as cold and needs to review his wardrobe.
...
"It's an issue I have been discussing with people who have key roles in the Vatican," said Zeffirelli, who has directed some Vatican television events.
...
Zeffirelli, 84, added that papal robes were "too sumptuous and flashy." "What is needed is the simplicity and sobriety seen in the other echelons of the Church," he said.


Benny! Baby! Can we talk?

I heard about that Zeffirelli guy saying he could help you out. Listen, if there's one thing I know, it's style, and I gotta tell you I love the man's movies, but clothes? Come on, he dresses like he's the reincarnation of Sinatra or something. You know, Ginzo-- uh, I mean, Italian. I love Italians. Viva l'Italia. Did I mention I did some work in Sicily once? On a picture for Cop'. Fabulous experience.

Anyway, back to the duds. Franco has a point: they're a little dated, you know? Even Tom Wolfe doesn't do the white suits any more. And don't take it personal, kid, but red just isn't your color.

You want something differe, something new, something that says "I am the NOW pope." Here's my idea: You go down in history as the first gansta holy fatha!

A couple of adjustments, that's all it'll take. We ditch the pectoral cross and get you something in diamonds. A big pendant of St. Pete's or something. And "IL PAPA" spelled out underneath. Do you love it? Do you LOVE this idea? You do, I can feel it. I can feel the love.

I notice you wear that little white skullcap. Tell the truth, is it so far from a 'do rag? One little change, big new image.

Red cape, uh-uh. We go with- ready ?- purple. Has that nice "pentitential" vibe to it- remember you're a German, you're supposed to be sorry, right?

All this is just for starters, babe. We'll talk about the hair later. I have a fabulous stylist-- I think his mother was Italian , you're gonna love him.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ICE!

I have a Pilates class in twenty five minutes.

Pilates classes cost money. If you miss one you don't get your money back.

But it is MINUS TWELVE DEGREES OUT THERE!!!

OK, it's zero. But the wind chill makes it feel like minus twelve, according to the US National Weather Service.

I'm sorry, I just think it's crazy to go out in weather like this. I don't care what Jack London says- "Cold begins at minus 20," my a--. Zero is cold. Minus twelve is too freakin' cold.

Pilates, they say, will eventually give me an incredibly strong and perfect body. But what's the good of having a killer bod if you're DEAD? Frozen to a well-toned, core-strengthened, HYPOTHERMIATED BLOCK OF ICE?

I'm not going.

I'm not.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Over the Top

Let's see, what was yesterday. Thursday. Library day. After I picked Sophia up at school we drove to the library and book browsed.

By the time we headed home it was dark. Nevertheless, the neighborhood was full of activity. People were walking their dogs, salting their sidewalks, practicing their cross country skiing.

And the humonguous house across the street was getting its Christmas act on.

I havent' written much about this house, but it is one of the wonders of the world. As in, I wonder why anyone would do that?

For the past three years the owners have been working on the place. They restored, remodelled, repainted. And it took a lot of paint, believe me. This house is about a gazillion square feet. Plus the carriage house, which is bigger than the house I grew up in. When I'm telling people how to find my house, I just tell them to look the house across the street. You can't miss it.

Don't get me wrong- the house is gorgeous, in a huge Victorian barn kind of way. It's just that I wonder how the members of the family that occupies it every manage to even bump into each other. You could get lost easy in a joint that size.

Anyway, yesterday they had the crew out, putting up the lights. I counted. I counted seven crew members and I think I missed a couple of guys on the roof. Plus a crane.
Sophia was delighted. "Oh, look! Look how fancy! Can we do that to out house?"

"No. We're going for tastefully understated this year."

Which means in part, of course, that in DIH's humble opinion you'd have to be nuts to climb up on a roof so you can staple a few strands of lights in place, ony to have to take them down a few weeks later. Risking life and limb for the sake of exterior decor does not strike me as quite in the holiday spirit. It strikes me as bonkers.

It also means I actually think my house looks kind of pretty. I laid a couple of strands of light in the windowboxes and lined the windows in Sophia's room with another strand. And you can see the tree through the livingroom window, and it looks nice and bright.

So to anyone trying to find me: follow the lights to the wonder of the workd, then look around for "tastefully understated." That's me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's That Time Again




Ah, December in Minneapolis! Sub-zero temperatures, a foot and half of snow on the ground- yes., it's definitely time to go out and play!

This is the lake in my neighborhood. They're clearing snow off the surface. After these little bulldozers are done another truck comes along and sprays water on the cleared ice, to make a smooth glassy surface for the skaters. [DIH is hoping to leave the impression she lives in one of those mansions in the background.]

Pictured at the top are the classy facilities thoughtfully provided by the city for said skaters. Hey, it takes a lot of hot chocolate to stay out there.

More From The Religion of Peace

AFP, Dec. 11- Friends and classmates of a 16-year-old girl who police say was murdered by her devout Muslim father in a Toronto suburb told local media Tuesday she was killed for not wearing a hijab.
Police said in a statement they received an emergency call at 7:55 am local time Monday from "a man who indicated that he had just killed his daughter."

The victim, Aqsa Parvez, was "rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries, but tragically passed away late last night."

Her father, Muhammad Parvez, 57, was arrested at the scene and will be formally charged with murder when he appears in court Wednesday, said police.

The girl's friends, meanwhile, told local media she was having trouble at home because she did not conform to the family's religious beliefs and refused to wear a traditional Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

"She wanted to go different ways than her family wanted to go, and she wanted to make her own path, but he (her father) wouldn't let her," one of her classmates told public broadcaster CBC.

"She loved clothes," another of her friends, Dominiquia Holmes-Thompson, told the daily Toronto Star. "She just wanted to show her beauty ... She just wanted to dress like us, just like a normal person."

According to her friends, Aqsa had worn the hijab at school last year, but rebelled in recent months.

They said she would leave home wearing a hijab and loose-fitting clothes, but would take off her head scarf and change into tighter garments at school, then change back before going home at the end of the day.

The victim's 26 year-old brother was also charged with obstructing police in the investigation.
h/t Breitbart via Drudge

Monday, December 10, 2007

People of Faith

I guess it's a better phrase than "I'm spiritual." I mean, come on, if you can actually speak that phrase you have to be corporeal, right?

Mitt Romney declared the other day that he would be true to "the faith of [his] fathers." I think he may be onto something there.

In fact, I'm considering coming out for the faith of my fathers, myself. That's right, the Druids. They were into trees and bushes and the parasites that grew on them. Like misteltoe.

But I'd have to start a reform movement first. No more misteltoe. Too awkward-making, misteltoe.

Unless you're really going to make a sport of misteltoe-shooting. Last time I was in a Carolina swamp a lady bragged to me that her daddy went and shot the misteltoe off the big oaks with a shotgun every Christmas. That's nothing, another lady sniffed, my daddy used a rifle.

So their Christmas traditions included blowing the brains out of defenseless plant life. I wonder if they could be talked into aiming at other plants. Like forsythia. Man, I hate forsythia. Bright screaming yellow - gives me a headache.

But I was speaking of misteltoe. And Druids. And Christmas traditions.

Maybe I'd better not get started on that subject.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Price We'll Pay

There has been a lot of jawboning recently about "the Huckabee surge." Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and evangelical preacher guy, seems to be an increasingly viable Republican candidate.

The reason for Hucakabee's surge, according to some pundits, is one mightily pissed-off bunch of evangelical voters. Huckabee is the only candidate, thye say, who has been consistently pro-life and pro-marriage. He's The Values Guy. And many Christians are so sick of having their values spit on that they're willing to vote for Huckabee.

Now, DIH does not have tons of political opinions,but one thing she has always known: the most important issue in this country is abortion. Period. Life or death. Not only for the murdered babies, but for all of us. If America does not do a 180 on abortion , if we do not pull back from this unspeakable sin and make amends for it, we will pay a terrible price.

This mornig DIH realized Mike Huckabee could be the price.

Good people will vote for this guy because he is sound on the Most Important Issue Since Slavery.

On the other hand, what's Huckabee going to do about the Islamic terrorists? Sing hymns at them? Start an "amen" corner in Mecca? Threaten them with a church picnic? "Have some chicken and ribs, Abdul! They're gooo-ood!"

Huckabee in, abortion out, terrorists in. Goodbye, America. it was fun while it lasted.

You read it here first.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'm With Avraham

From Ace of Spades:

"In a campaign that has spread like wildfire across the Internet, a group of Israeli environmentalists is encouraging Jews around the world to light at least one less candle this Hanukka to help the environment.
The founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign found that every candle that burns completely produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. If an estimated one million Israeli households light for eight days, they said, it would do significant damage to the atmosphere.

"United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz called the environmentalists "crazy people who are playing with the minds of innocent Jewish people." He said the campaign would only convince people who do not light candles anyway.
"They should encourage people to light one less cigarette instead," Ravitz said."

Lying Awake Annoyed on a Snowy Evening

As a blanket of snow wraps itself around the city, muffling all the humdrum sounds of the streets, I lie in my warm, soft bed at night, pondering the question:

Who is more annoying, people who use their snowblowers at 11 pm, or the ones who rev'em up at 6 in the morning?

Nothing spoils the magic of a snowy winter evenign like the roar of a snowblower. And if you're like me, and you've been trying to tell yourself "snow is MAGIC, dammit! Magic!" ever since you moved here, you really can't afford to have the mood tampered with.

On the other hand, there are the 6 o 'clockers. Granted, they're doing a service by clearing the paths , in bits and stretches anyway. But blasting DIH out of bed is not a service. It's an evil, evil deed.

Go on up to the Great North Woods sometime, where the rich (and in DIH's opinion none-too-bright) build their vacation homes. Mention the word "snowmobile." Hear the torrent of hostility the word brings forth. Those nasty, noisy, smelly things are disturbing our pristine wilderness! And I ought ot be able to afford pristine! Where's my pristine, huh? What am I paying my taxes for? etc.

You never hear that about snowblowers.

My chief beef about snowblowers. of course, I don't have one. Did you ever price snowblowers? Nine hundred bucks for a cheap one. How many Mexican laborers could you hire for nine hundred bucks? It doesn't make sense.

So yes, there's some envy here. Shoveller's envy and all that.

I suppose I'll shovel today, later. Give the city time to call and threaten me with a citation if I don't. They love doing that.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Adios, Hugo

"CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.
Voters defeated the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent."


"The thing is," the spouse muttered over his coffee at 6am, "Hugo Chavez might not care much about being a socialist, but he really cares that we don't care. And we don't. Who cares about a South American socialist, now that the Soviets are gone? Chavez can go ahead ruin his country all he likes, we still won't care."

Well, maybe Hugo find some other country to ruin. Congratulations Venezuela-and by the way, welcome to the twenty-first century.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Enchanted

Will wonders never cease. There's actually a terrific family fiml out there this week.

Disney's "Enchanted" can be read in a lot of ways. It could be labelled a send-up of the classic fairy tale, or an excuse to use as much of the talent of the team that brought you "The Little Mermaid " as possible. DIH prefers to see it as an affirmation of the miracle of true love. With production numbers.

Go see it, and bring the kids. You won't be sorry.