Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Orson Welles

Today is the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds" broadcast.  So to celebrate, a one of Desperate's favorite moments from Welles' career.

You Know You're Irish When...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lives of the Saints

This week the students at Our Lady of Peace Through Strength grammar school will observe the Feast of All Saints in traditional Catholic school fashion.  Every kid will come to school costumed as a saint.

Just as in every other year, I'm sure it will be quite a sight.  There will be the children of the online-oriented, showing up in their grade costumes -- the Mother Teresas with the full habits and so on.  There will be the children of the skilled craftsmoms in homemade costumes that acutally look better than the store-bought ones.  Many of the boys will choose to be St Francis of Assisi, if only for the opportunity to sport a false beard for a day.  Then there will be the kids after Desperate's own heart, who come to school every year in a dyed bedsheet and are still trying to decide  which saint they're representing as they arrive at school.

DIH likes to think she is creative but she makes no claim to being crafty.  She can barely thread a needle.  So her creativity takes other forms.

My parents travelled to Spain once a few years ago and brought back a really cool little girl's flamenco dress.  My daughter wore it for All Saints' Day and went as  "Teresa of Avila, The Early Years."  I think she wore it for a couple of years, actually.

This year we have decided to by her the airgun she's been begging for, the one that launches foam balls like a bazooka.  All Saints' Day interpretation:  St. Barbara, patron Saint of Artillery.

My daughter starts high school next fall.  I wonder if I'll miss All Saints' Day costumes. 

Probably not. But I'm glad my kid had the experience all these years.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Was Wondering How They'd Handle "Billie Jean!"

Seriously, this is too awesome to ignore.

Somewhere St Therese Is Laughing

Just read my horoscope for today.

"ARIES.  Have you ever considered a treadmill desk or a ball chair?  All it takes is one slight adjustment to your working style to make a considerable difference to your health, well-being and productivity."

The Little Flower and Me

Every so often I ask myself how I ever got into this writing game.

(Note that I say "writing game."  I'd love to call it a business but I htink you have to turn a profit to call something that.  That part is still in my future.)

The answer is, not unlike being a duchess or an undertaker, I was born into it.  Or born in it.  Born that way, maybe that's the term I'm looking for.

There you are, eight years old, you've got this "hold the pencil and form the letters" thing nailed, and you just start.  You write.  You write stories and plays and rhymes.  You fill a blue exam book you found int he basement and you say "Now I have written a book."  It goes on from there. Before you know it you're writing every day.  And before you know it, you find it you don't write every day, you start to feel weird.

Not the other way around, mind you.  Not "people who don't write are normal."  You think you're normal. You can't understand why everyone else isn't doing it.

Then you grow up and you realzie that all those years you had it backwards. Those people who didn't write every day?  THEY WERE THE NORMAL ONES.    They were off playing sports and going to parties and graduating from law school.  They had lives, careers, real estate.  That, you realize finally, is what's considered normal American life.

But you can't stop.  You can't stop writing.  It's still true:  writing is the only thing that makes you feel  like yourself.  Well, that and one or two other things, but we won't go into them now.

Now about the Little Flower.

I hate to admit  it but she was never one of my favorite saints.  Until about a week ago.

I knew, of course, that St Therese of Lisieux wrote her "Story of a Soul" because her superior in her Carmelite convent- who I believe was her biological sister at the time- told her she had to. Being the Little Flower she meekly took up her pen and got to work. 

And guess what?  She found it was hard work, too.  She hated to be interrupted because it took her so long to get into the writing zone that the slightest interruption threw her mojo off.

Hello, all you writers out there!  Can you relate?

The story I read was this:  she was sitting outdoors during the haying season, working on the diary. By then she was very ill and had to rest whenever possible.  But she kept writing.  She was taking the sun and working on her book, when all of a sudden a bunch of flowers landed right on her lap.

She gritted her teeth.  The flowers, she knew, were a little gift from one of the other nuns, who thought she'd brighten Therese's day. 

Therese forced a smile, thanked the sister, said something like how lovely, etc.

But inside she was seething.  Don't these people realize how hard this is, she thought.  Don't they know the last thing I need when I'm writing this blasted book is distraction?  Why don't they get it?  Why can't they leave me alone when I'm working?  Now how am I going to get started again?

I cannot relate to the sugary sweet Little Flower you read about in all the books.

But I can definitely relate to a pissed-off writer.

Therese?  You're my girl, from now on.

Monday, October 21, 2013


There's a lot to be said for the experience of breaking a few bones.  All of it negative, so far.

A week ago my daughter broke her ankle, big time.  She is now in an above-the-knee cast and will be in one for at least the next five weeks.  Imagine the fun.

I must say she's handling it very well. Of the two of us she was definitely the clear-headed one at the hospital.  Well, I was able to fill out the forms and so on.  But that was about all I was good for.

This is my first experience with a fiberglass cast. My advice?  Avoid the need for one.  They're heavy, they smell awful if you get too close and the sentimental value aside, all those kids' signatures all over them look pretty ugly.

It also means she will take a pass on basketball season this year.  She loves basketball and this will be tough on all of us.  I always look forward to those games that last until 7.  It's fun to say "It's too late to cook, let's order a pizza" two or three times a week.

Weird fact:  the morning of the break we were driving to church, and my daughter asked me "What's a gurney?"

Well, she knows now.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Shutdown Week

Having a blog you neglect for as long as I have is like having an overdue library book.  You see it there on the table;  you know you should take it back. But you feel like such a dope for letting it get so overdue.  You can't face the gltares of the librarians, the reproachful looks from some kid who was no doubt waiting for the book al those weeks. The shame of it.  It's too much.

This is where being  a Catholic comes into play.

I mean, think about it.  St Peter f-ed up big time. Did he let it bring him down?  Well, yeah, but he kept working.

Humiliation?  Hey, it's good for you?  You screwed up!  And now you have to ADMIT IT and MOVE ON.  Man up!  Soldier on!  Pull up your socks!

Whew.  There.  I feel a little better now.

So-- if I have any readers left-- I'm back.

The big news this week of course is the shutdown of the United States government.  800,000 non-essential employees have been furloughed.

I'm sorry, I just reread what I typed.  800,000 non-essential employees?  We couldn't stop at 400,000, or even half a million?  Do we really need 800,00 employess who by definition we dont' really need?  Who the hell is running this place anyway--

Oh.  Right.

I have been on the lookout for signs of the anarchy the Prez promised us if the gov shut down. So far I've seen one notice online, on an CDC site:  something like "because of the lack of appropriations we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information."

Well, welcome to the Internet, CDCers.  I never would have doubted your word for a second otherwise.

Besides all this talk of panic misses the point.  If the government is shut don, then that make this a week for some fun and exciting new activities.

Play a rented video at home-- and charge your kids a quarter.

Tear all those pesky tags off your pillows. Yeah, you read that right, all of 'em.  Go wild.

Choose your least favorite "protected wildlife" species and go taunt a few.

The possibilities are endless.  I say we get all the fun out of this shutdown that we possibly can. They don't come nearly often enough.