Monday, June 30, 2008

Getting Rand-y

My 16-year-old nephew is here with us in the Midwest for a few weeks. He will be doing an internship at my husband's publishing company. Better him than me, I always say.

Nephew is on the Speech and Debate team at his high school. Spouse was Chairman of his debating society back at Yale. This gives them lots to talk about,which is to say they are both capable of turning any conversation into a debate. DIH is trying to look upon this as an educational opportunity, but she is not sure how long her patience will hold out.

By way of making Nephew welcome I hung blinds in the guest room and arranged a number of social events. I'm a good aunt, really.

By way of making Nephew welcome, Spouse presented him with a copy of, you guessed it, "Atlas Shrugged." Which he has devoured.

Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing like a little Ayn Rand to get the day off to a rolicking start. "Aunt Sue, do you think Ayn Rand hated lawyers? Aunt Lee is a lawyer. But she would have liked her, I think. Or maybe not. Do you think the federal government is essentially a bunch of looters? Or do you think they serve enough of a real purpose to escape the category? Do you get the Wall Street Journal online? Are there any Cocoa Krispies?"

I suppose 16 is about the right age to be reading Ayn Rand and taking her too seriously. Like I said, I'm a good aunt and I'm determined to be patient. But I think Emily Post left something out of the chapter on Being a Good Host ( Guest, for that
matter). Like, "lay off the Ayn Rand, it annoys people."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's Official: Our New Archbishop Rocks

From the Curt Jester, yesterday:

"Reader Peter C let me gave me a heads up on this story:

"As announced in the Saint Joan of Arc bulletin last week:

"Pride Week at SJA: Please join us on Wednesday, June 25 at 7 pm in the church for a prayer service to celebrate and give thanks for the gifts of our Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered community. Celebrate with us in prayer and song - we'll be joined by guest musician and SJA favorite Ann Reed. This service is part of "Pride week in the Twin Cities. FFI on the week's events contact Julie Madden at the Parish Center."

And today, an update:

"One of my readers received this reply from the Archdiocese which is perfect:

"Thank you for your message of concern to Archbishop John Niensedt. Since the Archbishop is in Rome this week receiving his pallium from the Holy Father, I took it upon myself to respond to your commentary/inquiry.

In accord with a previous instruction from the Archbishop, I have contacted the associate pastor of Saint Joan of Arc (the pastor is on a leave of absence following the death of his mother) and directed him to remove the objectionable information about GLBT topics and endorsements of adoption by same sex parents. He assured us this will be done. Last week, the Archdiocese directed me to tell this same priest to cancel an announced GLBT prayer service (which had been initiated not by the priest but by a parish staff member.) This also was done.

We apologize that you were scandalized by these violations of Church teaching but assure you that our Archbishop will not permit such infractions to be repeated or to continue.

God Bless,

Dennis B. McGrath
Director of Communications"

And The Boiled Tofu Was Fabulous

Today's Wall Street Journal reports that Democratic efforts to make this summer's convention "the greenest in history" have caused a few tried-and-true American traditions to be put on hold.

"Among them: No fried food. And, on the theory that nutritious food is more vibrant, each meal should include "at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white." (Garnishes don't count.) At least 70% of ingredients should be organic or grown locally, to minimize emissions from fuel burned during transportation."

"Democrats say the point is to build habits that will endure long after the convention. To that end, the city has staged "greening workshops" attended by hundreds of caterers, restaurant owners and hotel managers. "It's the new patriotism," Mayor Hickenlooper says.

Laura Hylton, general manager of Biscuits & Berries catering, agrees in principle. But
she has been testing her recipes using local ingredients for weeks and still can't get
the green peppercorn sauce right when she uses white Colorado wine. The state's high-altitude wine industry took off in the early 1990s and produces some award-winning labels, but Ms. Hylton says diplomatically, "It's a little...lacking. Our wineries out here aren't what you'd see in California or France."

"Joanne Katz, who runs the Denver caterer Three Tomatoes, will take one for the green team by removing her fried goat-cheese won tons with chipotle pepper caramel sauce from the menu."

No word on what she's replacing them with. But does this sound like a great summertime party or what? DIH can only hope the "new patriotism' spreads to the Minnesota State Fair. She can't wait to try the Steamed Cow Bits on a Stick.

I Guess We Can Hope Robert DeNiro Will Sue...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where Is Miss Marple When You Need Her

As the proud if majorly mortgaged owner of a home DIH feels obliged to keep the property looking halfway decent. This is not easy as my house is surrounded by elegant homes that pay professional gardeners to keep their lawnsclipped and their blossoms blooming. Cheating bastards, all of 'em.

I may have mentioned this before but it bears repeating: DIH is a serial plant-killer. Houseplants, herbs, shrubbery... you name it, I can wipe it out ina week. How? I can't really say. It's a gift.

I do whatever the garden guides tell me. I water the damn things. I stick them out in the sun. Do they appreciate my efforts? Oh no. They all just freakin' die, one after another. It's like there's some kind of secret plant suicide pact. "If you ever get picked up by a redhaired woman with a hopeful gleam in her eye, well-- here. Bite this capsule. It's for the best."

Yesterday I attempted some weeding. This was because the front of my house was starting to look like a jungle. They issue citations around here for that sort of thing. So I went out and ripped out all the weeds I could identify. (Unfortunately DIH is apparently not so good at identifying poisonous plants, which is how she ended up with a nasty rash on her forearms.)

After an hour's sweaty and mosquito-plagued work I had a big pile of garden trash. The front yard does not look noticeably better, yet. But I did find one promising thing: a couple of mint plants, just minding their own business over by the hedge.

Juleps tonight, baby. At least something good came out of the garden. For once.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

"Good evening. This is the Hippy Dippy Weather Man, with all the hippy dippy weather, man. There's no news from our weather station in Central Park tonight, because the caretaker was mugged. So, ah- forecast for tonight: dark."

- George Carlin on the Ed Sullivan Show, like a hundred years ago.

George Carlin died yesterday at age 71. He always made my family laugh. Especially with his dead-on impression of my mother [not that he ever met her- that was part of what amazed us] demanding "Where are the good scissors?"

And who could forget his one-on-one encounter with Mother Angelica on The Tonight Show? Carlin was visibly nervous when he realized a real live nun was going to be sitting next to him on that couch. When she eagerly asked if was he the one who did the Sister Mary Elephant bit, he was taken aback. He responded "No, Sister, that was Cheech and Chong" in the most respectful tone I ever heard him use. Mother A. was disappointed, but was thrilled to meet him anyway.

Sad to lose such a funny man.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Style Notes

Driving home from church this morning we passed a young mother and her daughter out for a stroll. And DIH nearly backed up to double-check. But I didn't have to. I saw what I saw.

Either that young mom has the weirdest-looking birthmark in the known world, or she had a tattoo on her arm in the shape of Mary Poppins. Complete with umbrella.

I don't know what this says about the state of the family in America, but I can't believe it's anything good.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

For God's sake, somebody get out there and find a couple more minority kids!

Ask About Our Latin Motto Contest

"Vero possumus!"
[I went to Princeton, can you tell?]

"Nil Nisi Bonum!"
One false move Re: Hillary and you could meet Vince Foster reals soon]

"Suntne Angeli?"
[Where's the bathroom in this joint?]

[I'd rather not talk about inflation right now]

"Arma virmuque cano!"
[Mr Bin Laden, what a pleasant surprise!]

"Veni, vidi, vici!"
[There's a sucker born every minute, thank God. Or thank Allah. Oh, whatever.]

Season Opener

Sophia attended her first camp of the summer. This past week's educational and recreational endeavor was a theater arts camp. Singing,dancing, acting. It culminated in a performance of "The Wizard of Oz."

The fact that my daughter was chosen to play Dorothy is further proof that adoption rocks. DIH never could wear gingham. But Sophia looked charming.

Camp season is a tricky time. I think of it as an annual workshop in theory v. practice.

Theory: kids should spend alot of time in the great outdoors.
Practice:...where the mosquitoes rule and the sun gives all the kids headaches.

Theory: summer is an educational opportunity.
Practice: you said the same thing about flu season.

Theory: Camps are a great way to meet new friends.
Practice: and you'll get to drive her sixty miles to her next playdate.

I dunno. I suppose it beats sitting around the house pestering mom for more computer time. Next week is vacation Bible School. Now that should be interesting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vote For Edina!

Monsoon for President! Sound on all the issues!

On limited government!

On the decline of the culture!

On the French!


On family and tradition!

Friday, June 13, 2008

DIH Has Crossed The Rubicon.

Daughter: Mom, what's a slingshot?
DIH: It's kind of like a catapult.
Daughter: I thought it was more like a bow and arrow.
DIH: Well, yeah.
[thoughtful silence]
Daughter: Mom, can I have a slingshot?
DIH: NO! They're dangerous.
Daughter: Why?

[Don't say it, Desperate. Be strong...}

DIH: Because-- because you could hurt somebody.
Daughter: Not if you aim it right. And I'm very careful.
DIH: You may not have a slingshot.
Daughter: But why not? I'll be careful!

[No, Desperate! Don't! Don't do it! Save yourself while you still can!]

DIH: No slingshots. Ever.
Daughter; But why not?
DIH: Because- because--

[I'm begging you!.]

DIH: Because you'll shoot your eye out!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

At Last, A Reason To Finish Film School

"Maui to unspool films under the stars"

Fest features bare toes and, hopefully, clear skies

"The great outdoors are back with a vengeance at the Maui Film Festival. No fewer than three outdoor venues in Wailea -- the evocatively named Celestial Cinema, SkyDome and SandDance -- will unspool films under the stars. In addition, this year's fest brands and expands its Seaside Wellness Village, which has been renamed with a more kickback moniker, the Seaside Cinema Lounge.
"It's our toes-in-the-sand town center," says fest director Barry Rivers. "Unlike Sundance or Telluride that have main streets, there's no real town center for Wailea. People spend time on the beach. This is our town center."

"Hence, Seaside Cinema Lounge, which will comprise two huge open-air tents, one of which is for the VIPs, the other for everybody else to enjoy mini-massages and complimentary snacks and beverages. In between the two tents, cineastes of all persuasions will find lots of umbrellas so they can "cross-pollinate" in the shade, as Rivers puts it, and meet the filmmakers after panel discussions on the beach."
[h/t Variety]

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Law of Local Construction

The house two down from DIH's is being torn down. Most of it, anyway. It sat on the market for a couple of years, went through a few hands at auction, and was finally bought by a real estate agent and her contractor husband. Their plan is to turn the dilapidated property into their kid's college tuition, wedding, graduate degree and retirement fund.

So as it's summer, construction/deconstruction has begun in earnest this past week. It's been an education. Some things I've learned:

-Work commences at 6am with an explosion. Then nothing is done for the next three hours.

-The same three ducks that have been hanging out it that yard for years are still pondering their next move. In the mean time they show up on schedule to watch the work. They seem a little confused, but they are creatures of habit after all.

-Real estate agents and contractors have a lot of money. At least they spend a lot. I figure they've blown about twelve grand just on tree removal so far. DIH must rely on lightning strikes for that sort of thing. Works, too.

-Big machines with big rubber tracks leave a lot of mud in the alley, much of which will find its way into your house no matter what you do.

-The more trouble a renovation is for the neighbors the less likely the neighbors are to be invited to the housewarming party. This is what happened with the humonguous house across the street. But it's ok, we can still watch their big screen tv from our livingroom, which beats a handful of crudites and some stiff conversation any day.

The State of Things

...and a contest. Anybody wanna enter?

Friday, June 06, 2008

It Only Comes Once A Year, So Enjoy It

According to today's LA Times, today is National Donut Day. It comes every year on the first Friday in June.

The patron saints of Donut Day are, of course, the Mackenzie Brothers. So have a donut and enjoy, eh?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New Twist On An Old Classic

Old classic: I had another "exam anxiety" dream last night. You know, the one where you show up for a final exam and realize you know none of the material.

New twist: I couldn't study or go to the classes all term because I was busy working as an undercover agent trying to defuse a radical Islamist plot. (I talked them out of setting off the bomb because it was Father's Day. Go figure.)

I gotta get rid of this dream.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Just A Thought

DIH is no policy wonk, Lord knows. But events of recent weeks have prompted a few questions.

Let's see. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) cancer was diagnosed, what, three weeks ago? Four, maybe?

Yesterday he was in North Carolina for special surgery. It was deemed a success.

Here's my question: how would this scenario have played out if the Dems got their wish and we had Canada-style health care?

Diagnosis: early May.
Further tests: June.
Appointment to schedule surgery: July.
Surgery: Early August. And not in North Carolina. Somewhere closer to home. Mass General, maybe. Or Martha's Vineyard Hospital. What, they don't have the same cutting-edge services there? Tough tumors, Ted. This was your idea, remember?
Late August: nothing. Everyone is on vacation. It's in their contract.
September: all right, all right, quit whining, we'll take the bandages off and see what's going on.

it never ceases to amaze DIH that the people most willing to sing the praises of socialized medicine have no clue what kind of care that would mean. Or maybe I'm wrong-maybe they do know, and just exclude themselves from their plans for the rest of us.

Same with education. Hillary Clinton sings the praises of the public schools and the teachers' unions that fight vouchers tooth and nail. But she sent her daughter to Sidwell Friends School (current tuition $27,900 per year). And where do the Obama girls go to school again? No matter- Mrs.O. says she shells out ten grand a year on ballet lessons. You don't hear much about ballet lessons in public schools.

This is all old ground, of course. But when Teddy K is the beneficary of lightning-speed American healthcare, you have to wish the other Dems would notice there might be some discrepancies between their theory and their practice. And learn something for once, dammit.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Now Here's An Interesting Item

"Vatican denounces group's claim of seeing the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times as 'work of the devil'"

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:54 PM on 01st June 2008

"The Vatican has denounced a group who claim to have seen the Virgin Mary more than 40,000 times in the past 27 years.

"The six Bosnian 'seers' attract five million pilgrims a year to their home town of Medjugorje, providing a lucrative trade for local businesses.

"Hundreds of thousands travel there each year from Britain alone.

"But now one of the most respected voices in the Roman Catholic church has accused the visionaries of perpetuating a 'diabolical deceit'.

"Andrea Gemma, 77, a bishop and once the Vatican's top exorcist, told a magazine in Italy: 'In Medjugorje everything happens in function of money: Pilgrimages, lodging houses, sale of trinkets.

'This whole sham is the work of the Devil. It is a scandal.' He said the Vatican would soon crack down on the group.

"The Medjugorje phenomenon began on June 25, 1981, when six children told a priest they had seen the Virgin on a hillside near their town.

A church investigation dismissed the vision, and the Vatican banned pilgrimages to the site in 1985. But many Catholics ignored the ban.

"Today, the seers own smart houses with security gates and tennis courts and expensive cars. One is married to a former U.S. beauty queen.

"Catholic officials in the U.S. have recently banned the group from speaking on church property during their world tours, on which they allegedly take the Virgin with them."

Any comments?

Anybody want to tell their Medjugorje story?

Sidney Pollack

A few choice bits from the great director's career. Sad to lose him.
Sorry the sound's not so great on the second one, but I loved "Michael Clayton." And I love his honesty in the last one.

For All You Opera Fans