Thursday, July 31, 2008

Watch Those Eights and Aces, Barack

In a campaign stop in Springfield , Mo,the other day, Barack Obama thought it was a good time to play cowboys and Indians:

"Obama also compared himself to western legend Wild Bill Hickok, who he said had fought a duel in Springfield.

"I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes right here, quick draw," Obama said." [h/t Drudge]

Okay. So now he's Wild Bill Hickock. With her recently acquired first- hand Dakota knowledge, DIH feels qualified to pundit on this one.

1. Wild Bill, according to online sources, was a"lawman." But he never liked working as a lawman much. He only lasted a couple of years at the job. (He was fired for shooting "more than just bad guys,' according to contemporaries.) He made his real living by gambling. One must assume "bluffing" was a great skill of his. Point for Barack.

2. For most of his public life Wild Bill was pursued by a rough, tough, oddball woman called Calamity Jane. (He is now stuck with her for all history, as she demanded to be buried beside him in Mt. Moriah Cemetary.) This also sounds familiar. (calamity jane was tougher than Bill, too.)

3. Wild Bill died by making one stupid mistake: compelled by his gambling urges he did the one thing he swore he'd never do, and took the last seat at a card table, which unfortunately faced aways from the doorway. Through which James McCall entered and shot him in the back of the head. Tsk, tsk, WB. You really did know better. And as for you, Barry: remember to control those gambling urges. They could backfire.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nice Place To Visit

After a long day of hanging around shopping malls and a Barnes and Noble or two, I like a little something to eat before heading home to start dinner. Naturally I head to the local Whole Foods Store, where one can usually score some healthful and even exotic free samples.

I guess it's been a while since I've stopped by WF. When I expressed surprise at the new layout of the place a stockboys said, "We did this back in February. Where've you been?" I lied and said, "On a diet." Ha.

I'm not sure why they felt they had to redesign the place. It seemed like the same old stuff: overpriced organic produce, Paul Newman's fake Oreos, lavender-scented eyepatches, crappy "indigenous" crafts you'd only buy as a desperate last-minute gift for someone you don't know or like very well. Plus plants and "natural" makeup. WF is one-stop shopping if you're into looking like you live off the land.

I did notice the new aisle signs. I was shocked- shocked!- that the pure hearts at WF actually labeled one aisle "Candy." And I was mystified by the aisle marked "tinctures." What, exactly, is a 'tincture"? And what kind of person would buy one? Sounds likes something out of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Anyway, hors d'oeurvres. Today I had Swedish Farm Cheese and some coconut curry dip on Italian crackers. Also a chocolate chip cookie and a handful of"veggie chips," which tasted exactly like potato chips. So they were okay.

Anyway, DIH must now turn her attention toward the kitchen. Dinner will be early tonight. I have to got to church later for my gun safety class. I am really looking forward to it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Buon Giorno, Minnesota!

So I'm walking around the lake yesterday and who do I see but Italy Man.

I don't know his real name. He is short, dark, and always talking on his cell phone. And this is what makes my day. I don't get many chances to hear someone speaking Italian here in Minnesota. And DIH looooves to hear that lovely, lovely language.

Anyway yesterday there he was, cell phone glued to ear, talking to somebody back home. If DIH's extremely spotty Italian is anything to go by, he was explaining the Minneapolis lakes system. "Minneapolis e come Molino," he said, Minneapolis is like Molino.


I gotta dig out my old guidebooks. Where the heck is Molino? Anybody know?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Photo Ops In The Dakotas

One of the drawbacks to being the designated driver on a 1,500 mile road trip is it makes it pretty hard to take pictures. DIH saw some really priceless billboards in South Dakota. In fact she's hard pressed to name her favorite.

At first I thought it was the first one we saw when we crossed the border from Minnesota into South Dakota. In big red whate and blue lettering:


{giggle- I added that last sentence.} I think there was a guy with a shotgun standing under the sign but I can't be sure, I was driving 90 mph. The speed limit is 75 in much of South Dakota (God bless 'em), but I had to keep up with traffic. OK, so there was only one other guy on the road. But still.

There was a related billboard a few miles down the road:

"WEAR FUR! CONTROL ANIMAL POPULATIONS!" See, this one was a public service message. Big-hearted folk, them Dakotans.

But I guess the prize would have to go to one of the many, many, MANY billboards devoted to the upcoming 67th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally. The artwork was incredible. Harleys. Yamahas. Girls in string bikinis. And the piece de resistance, a girl with long, flowing blonde hair and the stringiest of string bikinis astride a hog. This girl is apparently some kind of celebrity in the biker world. The ad gave her name, and the venue, and "THE RALLY TO SEE IN STURGIS! SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY --


I had to look twice- she certainly didn't look like John McCain- but there it was.

I'm tellin' you. Some folks really know how to run a campaign.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I'd like to blog about Obama's little foreign jaunt, but I'll have to wait until I stop throwing up.

Things To Do In Deadwood


Dang, this place jest ain't been the same since them Hollywood folks come to town. You get your Kevin Costners and your HBO'ers and all of a sudden sure the place looks a little shinier but can you park near the liquor store? Nope.

DIH and family are taking a brief tour through the Black Hills. We have learned a lot so far:

Rattlesnakes really do make that sinister sound, and their presence may explain why almost no one lives here.

Never mention "Yellowstone Park" or "The Grand Canyon" to a South Dakotan. Unless you want to listen to fifteen minutes of scorn for them federally-funded wusses.

The introduction of the gambling industry to nearly dead historical places may bring about economic revival, but it is plumb ugly. Ugly machines, ugly noises, and amazingly ugly hotel carpeting. Puts a whole new meaning on "selling one's soul."

When Dakotans say "just drive down the road a ways" they generally mean something like ten miles.

You know those fancy-schmancy GPS systems you always told yourself were a luxury? They're not. Get one before you even think about coming back here. Unless you want to spend your life wandering on the pitch dark prairie arguing about whose idea this whole trip was.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Well, He Did Say He Likes Change...

Senator Obama to CBS’s Lara Logan on “Face the Nation”: “[T]he objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years.” [h/t Politico]

Ten years? What, he's going to start with changing the Constitution? He's got eight,tops. Any sixth grader can tell you that.

DIH has been contemplating an Obama presidency. All she can say at the moment is she wishes she'd invested in gold, or prime real estate. Lord only knows what the dollar will be worth when The Big O gets his mitts on it.

Eight years of President Obama. Imagine all the smiling journalists. Glowing like devotees at the foot of their guru. It's a happy image, is it not? And who among us would begrudge our American press corps a little bliss for once. Bliss out, reporters! We're ready!

Eight years of our President reminding us that he is simultaneously a) downtrodden and b) a prep school-Princeton- Harvard man. Hey- is Dr. Phil looking for a new job? He's already helped Oprah. What could be bigger than Oprah? Phil, call me. We'll work on this.

Eight years of Jesse Jackson in a sulk.

Eight years of Michelle Obama complaining about how tough it is to be First Lady.

Eight years of fun. DIH can hardly wait.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lessons in Labs and Life

Some fourteen years ago we got our first labrador retriever. We named him Tex- got him on the first anniversary of Janet Reno's massacre in Waco, Texas. A really handsome dog- creamy white coat, wide, flat head, enormous paws. Tex would grow up to weight 110 pounds, lean.

Tex was a gentle giant as an adult, but as a puppy he was, well, a puppy. Chewing up the furniture, knocking over trash cans and snacking on the contents, peeing on the carpet. For the first three years of his life he was incorrigible. It drove us nuts.

One day my husband went to a party in D.C. He struck up a conversation with a tall, pleasant man with easygoing manner and friendly eyes- a real Lab type if ever he saw one, the spouse said later. And his instincts turned out to be correct- the man was also a Lab lover, and also had yellow Labs. "I'll tell you one thing I've learned," he said. "Labradors have absolutely no nerve endings. It's a waste of time trying to teach them anything by force. The key is patience."

I have borne this advice in mind all these years. I find it applies to every living thing, from plants to people. I'm glad I got the message when I did.

The man with the kind eyes was Tony Snow. I think he must have understood a great deal about how God wants us to live.

Please pray for his soul, and for his family. Dog-lovers are good folk.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Says It All

Obama Ha Ha

Today's International Herald Tribune reports that Barack Obama is not funny.

""We're doing jokes about people in his orbit, not really about him," said Mike Sweeney, the head writer for O'Brien on "Late Night." The jokes will come, representatives of the late-night shows said, when Obama does or says something that defines him — in comedy terms."

[Allow DIH to translate: "Defines him in comedy terms": when we notice something about him that doesn't bore us to tears.]

"Why? The reason cited by most of those involved in the shows is that a fundamental factor is so far missing in Obama: There is no comedic "take" on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton's womanizing, or President George W. Bush's goofy bumbling or Al Gore's robotic persona."

"The thing is, he's not buffoonish in any way," said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson's monologues..."He's not a comical figure," Barry said.

OK it's true: there's nothing funny about Barack Obama. In fact there's nothing there at all.

Wait-- did I just say "nothing?"

Clearly this is a situation that calls for Larry David. Larry! Call HBO now! I got a show for ya!

Here's the pitch: Barack Obama is trying to get elected President of the United States. But there's really nothing special about him,except he has this habit of offending people all the time. So it's tough for him, see? Think of the laughs! I got it- he can go around talking about abortion to- get this! schoolchildren! It's groundbreaking stuff! "Well, when you were in your mommy's tummy you were really totally expendable, so...."

Or he could go to Paris, on a mission. "Uh- merci bow-coop!" How's that? Are you laughing yet?

Send him to a retirement home. "My grandmother was like a lot of you. White. And old. Really old. Older than John McCain, even. Ha ha! Oh- um, not that any of you could be older that John McCain-- but maybe you are! Ha! Old!"

He names Jesse Jackson ambassador to Israel.

He names John Conyers to the Supreme Court.

He names Patrick Kennedy drug czar.

What are those lazy writers thinking. There's comedy gold here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Minnesotans in the News!

It's always heartening to see a local boy make the national headlines.

Earlier this week teh Internet was buzzing with a story about how some kid in Florida had gone to a Catholic church and taken the Eucharist "hostage." Sad story.

Then Paul Zachary Myers, who teaches at the University of Minnesota Morris, chimed in on his blog:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?. If any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Dear Professor Myers:

1. Yuk yuk yuk. You're a riot. No, seriously, all those years of reading National Lampoon clearly paid off.

2. No can do about sending you the Body of Christ. But how about a Koran? I bet you could think of a ton of zany gags to play with a Koran!

3. Can I bring a camera?

4. Can I post the pics on the Web?

5. Can you say "It was a joke!" to the folks you'd have to deal with then?

Friday, July 11, 2008


Another storm, another tree split in half in the front yard.

I love natural landscaping, don't you?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mi Fellow Americanos

Mi fellow Americanos, buenas dias del Officio Oval. Yo, tu Presidente, ho decido que todo el mundo gotta hablar esopanol, pronto. Entonces yo will be your ejemplo.

OK. In premier placio, no desidero que y'all hablar exactamente como el Mexicanos todo el tiempo. Nada of that "chinga tu madre" stuff, comprende? I'm hablando about el espanol castellano. You know, Cervantes. No know Cervantes? Oh, that's correcto- you no graduato del Princeton. Peasantos.

In segundo place, hablar espanol no means we have to eat como el mexicanos, either. Yo for one no can affordo los calorios. Tu think esto bod slendero es un accidente? Think otra vez. Habla espanol, eat japaneso, that's mi motto.

Pero los mexicanos, nos neighbors to the sud, ha muchos ideas not so bad. Yo desidero que you follow their customes in a few ways. Perdon. "Wayso."

Por assiste la guerra contra el global warming, I want mi popolu to drive come los mexicanos. Yo, tu Presidente, still get mi limo. But the resto you, commence with el carpooling. Seventeen to un auto, si possible. Los Mexicanos know how to save on el gaso.

Same with las casas. Nobody needs los Mcmansions, Especiallmente si you didn't go to Princeton. Viva in un apartamento. Un pequeno apartamento. You can fit you entiro extende familia into uno. Reduce tu footprinto carbon!

Los Mexicanos know how to live con pequeno dinero. Ahora that yo soy presidente you'd better learn to hace el same. Porque by the time I'm done with youse-o, you'll no got no dinero lefto.

Gracias, y buenas noches. God bless America. And, um, allahu akhbar. Or something.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bras and Anchovies

For the past week my daughter has been drawing some new pictures.

"What's that?" Mom asked, peering over her shoulder. "Eyeglasses?"

"No." She concentrates on her work. "It's a bra."

Another drawing.

"This one's a training bra," she explains.

I'd like to say "so the obsession begins," but it wouldn't be true. When she was two and a half I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween. "Something with breasts," she replied.

She was very happily adopted, thank you very much. Anybody gives us any Freudian crap about this I shall remind them that my daughter is also a brown belt.

As to the anchovies. The other day she asked me If I'd ever met one. "Well, yeah, I guess," I said. "You know, on pizzas."

"I met one at Galactic Pizza," she said.

"Yep, they've got 'em there."

"He was very nice," she went on. "But he didn't believe in God."

I considered. "I guess that might be tough for an anchovy."

"Mm. He said his mom was an anchovy, too."

"Did she believe it God?"

"No, no. She's an anchovy."

It took a minute but the light finally went on. "Honey-- do you mean atheist?"

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Unkindest Cut

I guess I noticed about three weeks ago. Maybe it's been going on longer, and I just didn't put the pieces together. Maybe I didn't want to believe it. You can hold on to something that has ended, even though you know it's over, simply because you can't imagine a world without it.

You ask yourself, I knew we were in a crisis, but when did it get this bad? When did warning signs stop being only signs and become the reality?

Even now I can hardly bear to write this, but I'm sure of it now.

Costco has stopped giving out free samples.

Or very nearly. When I go to Costco midweek now, no matter what time of day it is, the sample crew have vanished. No one offers the Ritz crackers with the sundried tomatoes or the chicken enchiladas. Gone are the puzzle-pieces of pizza, the popcorn chicken, the warm artichoke dip. Forget the tiny frozen cream puffs. They're history.

Is this what the global food crisis means to the average American?

If so, it's bad news indeed. We used to love eating our way through Costco. Especially at noon, or around four o'clock in the afternoon when everyone's feeling a bit peckish. "Hm, stomach's growling. And oh yeah, we need fifty rolls of toilet paper." Talk about convenient, one-stop shopping.

Oh sure, turn up on a Saturday and there's some vendor hawking his wares. A smattering of scowling, older people in hairnets (and clearly just thrilled abou tit) are still stationed here and there around the wearhouse, setting out little paper cups full of dry cereal or omega-3 supplements. The tradition lives, barely.

But Costco is nowhere near the free sample paradise it used to be. And DIH mourns.

Nutrition Notes

The Fourth of July weekend has come and gone. DIH and her cohorts did the country proud this year. We attended two county fairs, one sprawling picnic and an awesome fireworks display.

And, as required by Minnesota state law, we partook of all the main carnival food groups.

1. The Deep-Fried food group. There's no way around it: just about everything tastes better deep fried. Things that are otherwise inedible- crickets, for instance, or zucchini flowers- are delicious deep fried. With a little ketchup and lot of salt. Yum. Although I must admit I passed up the chance to indulge in Batter-Dipped Frogs' Legs. Somehow I didn't think I could handle the ecstasy.

2. The On-A-Stick food group. While there is a certain amount of crossover here with the D-F group, there are many independents and all are worth a try. Once, anyway. The weekend favorite was the Pork Chop on a Stick. Nothing reminds one of the miracle of Lawry's Seasoned Salt quite like it.

3. The Syrup group. Over pancakes, mixed into seltzer or merely stuck on the fingers, the syrup group is an essential. All your major carbs are there. Especially when it comes to pouring the stuff over shaved ice. The antioxidant powers of Blue Raspberry, DIH feels, are much underrated in out society. I say get out there and stain those tongues. Good for the immune system and do I have to mention the entertainment value? I don't think so.

4. The Free Sample food group. Everything from fruit smoothies to squirtable cheese. A small nation could survive on the food samples dished out over the Fourth of July weekend. Maybe one or two should. We are still the Land of the Free, after all. Next year I must remember to gather up some huddled masses before I hit the fair circuit. They make me proud to be an American.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More From Your Paradise of Socialized Medicine

In today's Daily Mail (UK):

"The parents of a terminally ill girl face a battle with the NHS to keep their six-year-old daughter alive.

"Amber Hartland, who suffers from the disease Infantile Tay-Sachs, is being treated for a chest infection brought on by the genetic disorder.

"But doctors have warned her parents, Nick and Lesley Hartland, that it could be the last time they will treat her.

"Infantile Tay-Sachs is an incurable condition which attacks the nervous system. Victims usually die before the age of four.

"It is thought that, given Amber's prognosis, doctors believe the suffering caused by treatment outweighs the benefits.
The case echoes that of Charlotte Wyatt, the severely disabled child whose parents eventually won the right for her to be revived in the event of a collapse, despite severe heart and lung problems from her premature birth in 2003.

Amber is receiving care at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust is now applying for a court to rule on whether it can stop treatment.

The trust said yesterday only that it would be acting in Amber's best interests."

I Guess I'll Have To Stay Home, Then

"Critics say new regulations that make it a crime to annoy or inconvenience Roman Catholics during a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Sydney this month restrict free speech.

"The laws will apply in dozens of areas of downtown Sydney that are designated venues for the July 15-20 World Youth Day, a Catholic festival the pontiff will address.


"Anyone who does not comply faces a 5,500 Australian dollar (£2,645) fine."

{via Five Feet of Fury]

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Good Grief.

Theft at archbishop's home nets Catholic treasures

While the archbishop was in Rome, "irreplaceable" crosses and rings were taken from his quarters.


An overnight burglary at the St. Paul residence of new Archbishop John Nienstedt netted the thief or thieves the gem- and precious-metal-laden rings and crosses worn by bishops throughout the 150-year-plus history of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a church official said Monday.

"These things are historically and reverentially irreplaceable," said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. "They're beyond value."

Believed to be missing, as well, are rosaries and a small safe. "It's like a historical treasure trove, if you will," McGrath said.

The burglary came on a weekend that was set to be a glorious one for Nienstedt, who was in Rome for a welcoming ceremony featuring Pope Benedict.