Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy Hogmanay!

Hogmanay, as you have learned in the Posts of New Years Past, is the Scottish name for New Year's Eve. It is of course, in the Scottish tradition, a time to get completely legless alcoholically, but also a time to count your blessings. Yes, Hogmanay is that perfectly Scottish holiday where you are required to be both A) drunk and B) grateful. Perhaps the old haggis bashers knew that true expressions of gratitude among manly men required a little bit of liquid courage to express...

In that vein, I was asking my mom "what is the name for one of those years where the absolute best things happen to you interspersed with some of the absolute worst things? What do you call that?"

Her response? "That, my dear, is called LIFE."

So there it is. I'm off to get drunk and to be grateful for life, in all its glory, pain, defeat, ecstasy, hope, faith, ignominy and inscrutability. But I don't want to sign off without saying thank you to all you Haggis readers for all you have given me in 2005; my life is richer for having you all in it.

Happy New Year, everyone. May health, happiness, and harmony be yours in 2006. Or, translated into Scottish: "Don't let the bastards grind you down."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year's Resolutions

I have a couple worth sharing.

1) Indulge my love for all things Patrick Swayze

2) Get on Vh1's Celebrity Fit Club 4
You say I'm not famous enough? So why are Jeff Conaway, Young MC, and Countess Vaughn of The Parkers eligible? Does Jeff Conaway have a blog visited by literally TENS of people?! I rest my case.

3) Bring back the august tradition of public streaking during The State of the Union. You know, the one initiated by the wild and crazy James Polk in 1846? Yeah! That one! Where Clara Mabel Stowe took it all off and went for an evening constitutional through the chambers?! Yeah baby. She was the best until Betty Lou George took it all off for that horndog Ike in '57. Giddy up!

4) Finally school myself in hip hop slang, like "badunkadunk," "thizzin," and of course, "heezy." You know, for my thug life, y'all.

How about you? Any you want to share?

Happy New Year!

Just in case I don't get a chance to post anything before the big Dick Clark-Ryan Seacrest-Haylie Duff (WTF?!!) extravaganza Saturday night, here are some new year's thoughts:

The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to. ~P.J. O'Rourke

Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen. ~Winston Churchill

New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to. ~Bill Vaughn

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast,
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury -
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
~Thomas Hood

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

One-Stop Political Shopping

From the good people at IPDI ( for the good people who love politics. Or hate it. Or watch it. Or even just spend more than 30 seconds per day on it:


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Jerk-Off Mags and the Women Who Love Them

I just received in the mail today a brochure offering me "2 Risk-Free Issues!" of FHM magazine.

Yeah. FHM. "For His Masturbation" magazine.

My name is clearly a female name. I've never ordered anything "FHM-like," and I'm pretty much not going to be at all interested in seeing "why FHM is the only men's magazine that crosses the line..." or in getting "an incredibly hot free bonus gift" with my order. It promised me "Opening lines that will make any wild female putty in your hands" and "cool fashions she absolutely wants you to wear (and take off)."

WTF, people?!! What about my demographic (ie, female, female, and female) would put me on the mailing list for a jerk-off mag?!!

I mean, as thrilled as I am to finally be included among the group of meathead subscribers to soft-core-itude, I'm not so psyched that a flier with half naked women was sent to my home. Not that I have issues with nudity; it's just that annoying, male-idealized nudity, you know the kind where the woman is posed on all fours with her ass up in the air looking seductively at the camera? Yeah. Ever tried that pose? Hurts like a mofo. Women don't do that, even when with men. It's a strictly magazine-invented pose for dudes who don't get enough time with real women to know it's fake. It's also annoying because it's basically soft core p*rn, saved from the Hustler shelf at the store only by the fact that they don't show nipples.

At any rate, even if I were interested in seeing how I could become putty in his hands or how he might trick me into bed in 10 steps or less, I have a strict rule about not buying any publication with multiple Tara Reid and Paris Hilton covers. Especially with their asses in the air...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Welcome to the Suck

One's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.
--Michael J. Fox

Y'all. I made a big decision this week. I decided that when I go back to my doctor this week I'm going to tell them to put me down as "noncompliant." It's a medical term that denotes patients who don't cooperate in the taking of medication, etc. It's often used in the warnings and concerns section of that little insert you get with any prescription med to say, "the side effects are x and y, and therefore patient compliance is of concern." It means, "this drug's side effects suck so badly that a good number of patients will say 'the hell with it' and tell you to go pound sand regardless of its efficacy.'"

Count me in on counting me out!

I'm so done. It's not like the drug is working so well that I'm just torn apart inside trying to do a cost-benefit analysis. The side effects are beyond what I'm even going to detail here, which I know is out of character for me! Which oughta tell you how my Journey to Noncompliance has reached its destination.

The thought of taking it makes me want to cry. I was in the shower the other day (where I do my best thinking, unlike special males in my life who require a commode), and I was pondering the irony of being put on a medication that you initially pray will be The One That Fixes Everything, and then you end up a couple of months later in your shower praying that it doesn't work because you think you might off yourself if you have to take it one more day, much less for the rest of your life. It's bizarre to mentally hope that you stay sick just so you can stop taking a drug 'that doesn't work.' When you are using all of those mental healing and mind-body techniques you've learned in order to visualize *continued illness*, that's when you know it's time to become noncompliant!

And so I bounded out of the shower, in my best impersonation of Archimedes, yelling, "Eureka!" and proceeded to celebrate my decision to Just Say No to sucky drugs.

The point of this post, however, is not to turn into my Great Aunt Jean who used to talk incessantly about her torn ligaments and her rheumatism, which endeared her to us tremendously as you can imagine. On and on about her feet and ankles (which were actually "cankles"--those ankles that have the same circumference as the upper calf), her back, her knees, on and on. This woman literally did not have a single joint that did not apparently give her pain that needed to be talked away with anyone who was too polite to turn tail and run when they saw her coming.

So, enough about the side effects that dare not speak their names and onto the point of the post:

Decision-making is difficult for people for a lot of different reasons. So many times we defer decisions to someone else, someone smarter, someone "better at that sort of thing" like doctors or lawyers or husbands maybe because we lack confidence in ourselves or maybe because we want to have somewhere to place the blame if something goes wrong. "How can we be in debt?!! Isn't this YOUR job to take care of the household money?!" Or, alternatively, we don't want to make a decision that will require us to take responsibility for our choices, and so we act out in ways that will force someone else to have to make decisions for us. Like in cases of infidelity where you essentially force the other person to end the relationship in a hailstorm of hurt and anguish because you couldn't bring yourself to do it honestly and appropriately on the front end. "It's not my fault; SHE ended things with ME." Other times, we just decide not to decide. We stay in the same job, we avoid opportunities that might make us have to decide something, or we convince ourselves of the absolute rightness of our belief system because then we don't have to ever decide again; that work has all been done already.

What I remembered in my showertime contemplation/cogitation is that my whole life philosophy has always been that everything a person does is a decision. Everything. Loving someone is sometimes a decision you make on a given day when they are not being so lovable. Choosing not to drink again is a decision, even though no one would blame you for falling off the wagon just once. "Having feelings" for someone when you are in a relationship with someone else is a decision. You can't help getting the feelings, but you can and do decide whether you are going to "have" them. Determining how today is going to go is a decision. Will I indulge my self-pity today? Maybe. Will I let my inner demons get me down? Perhaps. Will I be the person I would want myself and my mother and children and most-loved friends to believe I am? I'm gonna try.

No matter how bad you think you've got it, someone has it worse. The only thing they may have, like you and I do, is the power to decide how to deal with it. Are you going to give in to the temptation to blame someone else for your situation? Are you going to take the easy way out and force someone else to decide something for you? Are you then prepared to live with the consequences of that decision? I had a friend who used to say, "I didn't mean for it to happen; it just did" and we'd have the biggest debates about that statement because I always posited that nothing (except for illnesses and acts of God, etc) "just happens." You let it happen, you allow it to happen, you put yourself in situations where it is more likely to happen, you don't dissuade it from happening, you fool yourself into feeling surprised/guilty/confused when it does happen, but the truth is that you got the exact result you were subconsciously seeking if your decision tree is any indication of the truth. I'd find myself saying, "Tell me, how did you THINK this was going to go?!! Your decision tree is a road map to this very point!"

Physician heal thyself.

I realized in the shower that day that I had been feeling like my life was not in my control. Which, to a certain extent, is true for anyone. You get sick, a loved one gets sick, you get laid off, your dog dies, whatever--some things really are out of your own control and there ain't nuthin you can do to stop them. But I realized that I had been letting myself get pulled along by the current, hating the current, afraid of the current, but just letting myself get pulled along regardless...and feeling like being mad at my lovely, smart and sweet doctor was the appropriate and justified response. I had been essentially throwing up my hands and hoping for the best, rather than remembering that--like anyone else--until they nail the box shut with me in it--I'm still and always in control of my life. And I absolutely have the right to control what happens to me even in the service of fixing what ails me. It's not the "damn doctor's" fault that I am in side effect hell, it's not God's fault, it's not my family's fault or my friends' fault; it's nobody's fault.

But it's my decision--my responsibility--to pick myself up and walk myself out of that hell with all deliberate speed. Yeah, I could paper my walls with all the "poor you" messages I'd get if I just let things go the way they're going, and no one would blame me for being a miserable wretch for my troubles. But "Eureka" doesn't mean, "Aw hell, live with it." It means "I have found it!" And what I found in my shower that day (besides the the fact that I love my new Crisp Apple scented shampoo) was my decision-making mojo, which had gotten lost somewhere between "reduced liver function" and "massive weight gain" on that little drug package insert...

So, with all love to Archimedes for the inspiration, this post started with Welcome to the Suck, and it's ending with The B(tch Is Back!!!

Eureka: I have found her. She's drug free and noncompliant as can be--by unanimous decision.

Tom Hanks?!!!!???

I just read an article about The DaVinci Code movie...starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon?!


Think what you will about the book's scholarship, sacrilege, whatever. But do not tell me that when you were reading it you were picturing Tom Freakin' Hanks as the main character. It's just not possible.

I'm stunned. What happened to, I don't know, Sam Shepard or George Clooney or someone, anyone but Tom Hanks?! I know Langdon is not supposed to be a hottie, but did they have to wake up in the morning with the express purpose of making him so very unsexy in every way? Now I'm supposed to believe that some young woman with a brain is supposed to become enamored of and make sweet, sweet love to...Tom Hanks?!!!

The willful suspension of disbelief required for this movie is not about whether one of Jesus' disciples was a woman. It's about whether Tom Hanks inspires friskiness in anyone, much less a nubile young woman.

Thank you, Ron Howard. You suck.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Cure for the Holiday Blues


Mike Meyers Single Again

Well, in a little while, that is. However long it takes under California law.

Mike Meyers is, of course, the SNL comedian of Wayne's World and Austin Powers fame. I'm bummed because it's the appropriate thing to feel when a long-term relationship ends. But also because his wife was Jewish, so I always kind of liked the notion that he was an MOT (Member of the Tribe) by marriage. Not to mention that his mother in law was his inspiration for his mid-90's Linda Richman character on SNL, and I will now cop to having been that girl who couldn't stop herself from lapsing into a Linda Richman shtick every five minutes. I am sure I was the most annoying person around, except for that guy who kept yelling, "You can't HANDLE THE TRUTH!!" a la Nicholson in A Few Good Men or the guy who kept doing Ace Ventura: "Aaalll Rightyy Thennn!" Okay, maybe I was even more annoying than him. But certainly not more annoying than all my pervy college guy friends who talked endlessly about Natalie Portman, that new 13-year old (Yeah, guys--THIRTEEN) actress in The Professional. At least she was a very-sort-of-well,not-at-all legal 15 when they couldn't shut up about her again when Beautiful Girls came out...

Anyway, point being: I was annoyingly in love with Mike Meyers. Some women like their men with money or abs or fast cars; me, I'm just all about the funny. So along came Mike Meyers, not really hot by modern standards, kind of weird by most girl's standards--dressed up no less like an old Jewish woman saying "shpilkes" and "schmatte"--and I was in full-on swoon.

The real origin of my swoonage is a movie called So I Married an Axe-Murderer, which he made before he got huge with Wayne's World. In it, he plays himself as a guy with commitment issues, and he also plays his very Scottish and eccentric father. I laughed so freakin' hard at that movie because he NAILED the very essence of my father. He WAS my father in that movie, coming downstairs to meet people at the door in his boxers, telling his son to "light a match!" after coming out of the loo, and claiming that the world is ruled by The Pentavirate, headed up by The Queen, The Gettys, The Rothschilds, The Pope, "and Colonel Sanders before he went tits up."

So much in love with Mike Meyers was I that not even him essentially inhabiting the body and mind of my father, wearing boxers while dancing to the Bay City Rollers could give me the turnoff. Hey--funny is funny, and funny is hot. Even if it appears as a wee fat man worshipping photos of Jackie Stewart and Sheena Easton in his wood-paneled living room.

So what's my point? I actually forget, to be honest. Oh yeah! Mike Meyers. Funny. Hot. Love. Swoon. Soon to be SINGLE, Baby!!! Woo Hoo!

Although it probably wouldn't work out between us, if for no other reason than someday we'd be sitting over a romantic dinner and he'd do one of his "If it's not Scottish it's crap!" shticks, I'd laugh, but then it would finally get to me: "I cannot possibly kiss a man who channels my father over a nice plate of veal piccata," and then I'd no doubt say something about his cute little goyishe punim in that Linda Richman voice, and then he'd think, "I can't kiss a woman who sounds like my ex-mother in law!" And the love affair would be over as inexplicably as it began.

Tragic, really. Because I seriously just never get tired of seeing someone put their pinky up to their mouth and yell, "One Meeeee-lion Dolllllars!" so the odds for eternal joy and happiness were pretty high. Unless he's one of those comedians who, in truth, is not funny or happy at all in real life. That would stink. Because I, most definitely, cannot handle the truth.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

More "Quality" than "Dubious"

It is once again time to direct your attention to the Blogariffic Wonder that is Dubious Quality. Not just because the author is a delovely and stand-up guy. He's actually scary smart too. With a hottie wife and a cutie son. Yes, you wish you were him for just 5 seconds, don't you? :)


Punk-Ass Political Wannabes

I'm teaching a class at a local university. It is a political program, so the average student is either currently working in, or hoping to break into, the political scene, be it campaigns, congressional staffing, lobbying, running for office, or any number of other career paths you'd expect.

It's a great program and I'm psyched to teach a class in it. The only thing is that I had forgotten how annoying political types can be in real life. Not the real political types, though. The Wannabe Political Types. The ones who think proximity to power makes them powerful, or that proximity to B-list celebrities makes them celebrities. They are kind of like those waiters at really expensive LA restaurants who routinely serve A-listers. When you, Joe Schmo, end up at their table they act snooty with you because, after all, they pour water for Brad Pitt when they don't have to do it for you, you big loser.

So these are the students that await me: what a friend and I call "dickswingers." You know the type, mostly male, walkin' around swingin' it, showin' you what they got, feelin' confident you'll like it and want it, and so involved in the swingin' business that they forget to not talk like a Sizable Equine Posterior.

I had completely forgotten what it was like, having been out of the industry for a while, until I received an email from a student in my upcoming class wherein he preened, posed, and generally made a Sizable Equine Posterior out of himself. I read it to my friend--while laughing till I couldn't breathe--who also used to be in the scene, and she reminded me that this is how PoWas (political wannabes) actually speak and write.

It was about two pages in length, the purpose of which was to detail to me--the instructor--how I might assist him in "getting a jump on what is sure to be an interesting and challenging course. As you might surmise, this assistance could take the form of any or all of the following:" and listed 5 things I could email to him to help him get ready for my class.

Yeah, I'll get right on that, you ridiculous 22 year-old. Oh! The best part was when he finished the message in a very helpful manner: "As a first year student in the program, I've had the opportunity to get to know several of the students also eager to take your course; if you would like, I could disseminate any information to them that you'd deem appropriate, be it the syllabus, the course reading list or any research sites we should visit."


Yeah, why don't I--the instructor of the course--just have you send a group email to your friends letting them know what I think they should be doing over Christmas to get really super prepared for my course. I'll just abdicate my job responsibilities to you, Eddie Haskell. Oh--could you grade some papers for me too?

When I first read it I was horrified, then I couldn't stop laughing, and now I'm just really eager to meet this "sure to be interesting and challenging" student. I replied back with a more professional version of the following: "thanks for your message; I'm looking forward to the course as well. Please enjoy your vacation; the syllabus will be posted by Jan 3rd, which will still give you 14 days to get a jump on anything you wish to start jumping before the class starts. ps--I will not be needing you to tell anyone anything, most especially because I already don't like you."

I'm glad he emailed me though, because it would have been terrible to walk into the first class and be reminded of it THERE. Yikes. Instant loss of credibility. So now I am ready: female political instructors can be dickswingers too. Check me out, yo. You know you want it. ;)

It Depends What Your Definition of "Is" Is.

Or what your definition of "unconstitutional" is.

A GREAT article in the WSJ today about how the NSA wiretapping issue has exposed the fault lines within the Republican party between traditional limited government conservatives and interventionist neoconservatives.

On the one side you've got the Rudmans, Specters and Snowes calling Bush's actions a presidential overreach that endangers balanced government. Even Bob Freakin' Barr, that former MOC loonacious loon from Georgia called it "an egregious violation" of the electronic surveillance laws. Then you've got your Trent Lotts and Bill Kristols doing their "Yes man" shuckin' and jivin' to the tune of Hail to the Chief.

The article's final point, which is a good one, is that the line between the two positions goes straight through Iraq: Those who thought it a good idea to go to Iraq support the NSA wiretapping; those you didn't/don't, think it's unjustified and unbecoming a conservative President.

Although Bush has never claimed to be conservative. He's always declared that he's a "compassionate conservative," which means of course that he "loves the sinner and hates the sin," or in this case, he loves the Constitution but hates that it applies to him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Chanukah Bush

People often ask me if I am having a "Chanukah Bush" in my house this year. As I've no doubt said before ad nauseaum, I have no idea what such an object might be, in terms of the practice of actual Judaism. I do know factually that they are small trees ornamented with Star of David ornaments and the like. They are more popular in the South where perhaps the pressure to have some piece of festive shrubbery in December is too great to resist if you still want to be a member of the Wisteria Lane Homeowners Association.

That being said, I do want to point out my selection for this year's theologically incorrect, yet festive nonetheless, Chanukah Bush:

Gov. Bush Lights Candles On Menorah In His Office

POSTED: 4:24 pm EST December 20, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Governor Jeb Bush is marking the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah by lighting candles on a menorah in his office. Rabbis from around Florida joined with the governor to light the candles Tuesday. This is the sixth year Governor Bush has participated in the Hanukkah celebration. He lit candles in a two-foot sterling silver menorah presented to him as a gift in 1999. The rabbis say Tuesday's menorah lighting in the governor's office sends a message to the people of Florida about religious tolerance.

Hanukkah begins at sunset on Sunday.

Does anyone else see the joke here? How did this strategy session go, for both the rabbis and the governor's office?

Rabbis: "Okay, we all know there is no way he is leaving his house to light our candles on Christmas Day, but we don't want to dissuade him from doing something to acknowledge it. Feh. So Tuesday it is."

Team Jeb: "Okay, Governor Bush, you need to be seen as supportive to the very large Jewish population of Florida. You will therefore publicly light the candles on the menorah surrounded by several Rabbis. The only problem is that Chanukah starts at sundown on Christmas Day, which we all know just ain't gonna happen personally or media-wise. So how about we do the whole Jew thing, but just do it 4 days early?! Lighting the candles on the actual holiday vs. lighting them a week before the holiday...Same thing as lighting a Christmas tree, right?"

Wrong. You light up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving (at least my neighbors do). You light each Chanukah candle on the night you're supposed to light it. It's not like you're more festive if you just light 'em up and keep 'em lit for the entire month! In all seriousness, why not just wait and light the candles on, like, the 5th night of Chanukah? At least it would be the actual holiday.

Besides, it's not like the 12 Days of Christmas where you'd rather get the Ten Maids a Milking than the Two Turtle Doves. All 8 nights actually count!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mom

Oh wait.
My mom doesn't read my blog.

She can never remember what it's called and simply says in her signature Scottish way, "Och, E, what a silly fuss to be getting on a computer and doing all that typing; how am I supposed to remember such a complicated website?" It's all she can do to check her gmail account which I set up for her. All of the conveniences that make gmail so much better than yahoo or hotmail are precisely the things that discombobulate her. She LIKES having multiple separate messages and replies, she likes that she doesn't have the bandwidth for "lots of nuisance photographs that people keep sending," and she thinks that any kind of pop-up alerting you that you have mail is "nonsense time-wasting."

I struggle to sum my mom up in just a few words, but I have just had the epiphany that I can do it in one: Scottish.

She's from old-school Scottish Presbyterian stock, which means that she thinks most things in the world are "silly" or "nonsense" and that lots of people act ridiculously because they obviously "don't have enough important things to think about." She's a little bit Marge Simpson (more because of her husband and kids than herself), a little bit Eleanor Roosevelt(ie, no one can make you feel bad without your consent), a little bit Miss Jean Brodie (ie, wants to inspire her "gells" to love art and to explore the world), and, well, a whole lot of Harry Potter's Professor Minerva McGonagall--played by Dame Maggie Smith who notably also played MJB--(stern but always fair).

She's definitely lacking a gene for sarcasm and yet can serve you with a putdown like the cheeky rascal you are. She definitely thinks the cure for boredom, depression, sadness or anything that makes you complain is Work And Plenty of It. She thinks that if you forget what you were going to say, "Well, it couldn't have been that important then, could it?" She thinks American culture can be too permissive and that more people ought to "shut it" and stop whining about their collective hurt feelings. And did I mention that she thinks the cure for boredom, depression, sadness or anything that makes you complain is Work And Plenty of It? Yeah, I guess I did.

For those of you who know my mom, you know I'm making her sound a bit more stern than she is. She's warm and loving and would give you the coat off her back and her last dime. She will personally help you out of any bind you are in, as long as it doesn't require her to listen to you complain, engage in self-pity or say anything that sounds like an excuse for being a jerk. Because if you do while you are in her home, believe me, you will be handed a broom or asked to help move a refrigerator for your temerity. Call it old-school Scottish psychotherapy. You might show up crying because your boyfriend slept with someone else behind your back, but once you're carrying a refrigerator up a flight of stairs "to get your mind off things," you're thinking, "gee, maybe I wasn't so bad-off 15 minutes ago after all...On second thought, I'll take the betrayal! Just let me relinquish this Frigidaire!"

So, Happy Birthday, Mom. Thanks for all the tough love, and also for the tender and compassionate, unconditional love that doesn't make for somewhat humorous blog posting.

You are the Creme de la Creme.
Your Baby 'Gell'

Iraq Becomes a Red State/Blue State Country

This article from The Guardian posits that the ideological splits demonstrated by the Iraqi election spell doom for Iraq. Interesting that they are somewhat mirroring the US' current red/blue divide.

His point is well-taken, however, that the US effort in Iraq has succeeded mainly in empowering precisely those people and ideologies we are seeking to eradicate.

Isn't there any wiretapping we could do over there, for heaven's sake?!!

Iraq's election result: a divided nation
By Patrick Cockburn
Published: 21 December 2005

Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.

Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. ...The Shia religious coalition has won a total victory in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. The Sunni Arab parties who openly or covertly support armed resistance to the US are likely to win large majorities in Sunni provinces. The Kurds have already achieved quasi-independence and their voting reflected that.

The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.

Islamic fundamentalist movements are ever more powerful in both the Sunni and Shia communities. Ghassan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator, said: "In two and a half years Bush has succeeded in creating two new Talibans in Iraq."

The success of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shia religious parties, has been far greater than expected according to preliminary results. It won 58 per cent of the vote in Baghdad, while Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister strongly supported by Tony Blair, got only 14 per cent of the vote. In Basra, Iraq's second city, 77 per cent of voters supported the Alliance and only 11 per cent Mr Allawi.

The election was portrayed by President George Bush as a sign of success for US policies in Iraq but, in fact, means the triumph of America's enemies inside and outside the country.

Iran will be pleased that the Shia religious parties which it has supported, have become the strongest political force.

Ironically, Mr Bush is increasingly dependent within Iraq on the co-operation and restraint of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for the eradication of Israel. It is the allies of the Iranian theocracy who are growing in influence by the day and have triumphed in the election. The US will fear that development greatly as it constantly reminds the world of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran may be happier with a weakened Iraq in which it is a predominant influence rather than see the country entirely break up.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

George W. Putin. Oops. I Mean, "Bush."

So the POTUS now has the authority to order wiretaps on US citizens in an end run around the very system that exists to require him to ask permission for said authority.

But not to worry. It's for your own protection.

Mmm hmmm. I'm inclined to believe that any time someone says that something is for your own good, you can be pretty d**n sure it's primarily for HIS own good.

An additional joyful piece of irony is Republican Arlen Specter's call that the situation not be "politicized." Why is it that Republicans are so anti-politicization when it deals with Abu Ghraib, WMD, "mission accomplished," but are the first people on board the Politicization Tour Bus when someone doesn't pay nanny taxes, gets some illicit physical attention in the White House, or when a friend of the President commits suicide (Vince Foster)?

For heaven's sake, if it weren't for activities associated with "politicization" Congress would have nothing to do but maybe pass legislation benefitting the American people; and lord knows we can't have that going on. The most beautifully, breathtakingly ridiculous aspect of Specter's plea against "politicization" is that it came from the man who, in perhaps one of the most instructive cases of politicization in US history, personally defamed Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings by accusing her of "flat-out perjury."

Apparently, the relationship between politicization and legitimate inquiry are similar to how Mel Brooks described that of comedy and tragedy: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."

Friday, December 16, 2005

PG-8 is the New PG-13. (ps--this post is PG-13)

As I mentioned, I stayed at my sister’s house due to the ice storm that precluded driving home, so I got to spend some time with my eldest niece. Somehow the 5 year old baby niece I remember has turned into an 8 ½ year old “tween” without me noticing. She thinks Lindsay Lohan is so cool and she has a ‘boyfriend’ named Jacob “who this girl totally lied and told me that he was dating another girl but he totally isn't.” When I heard the word "boyfriend" I was about to offer one of those made-for-TV cheeseball lectures that Erin Gray would have given Ricky Schroder on Silver Spoons about “being yourself” and not doing things just to make someone like you and “you don’t need friends like that anyway” when she blew me away with the following dialogue:

“So after this girl said that to me, I just decided to ask him about it, and I told him I didn't care what his answer was, but that I just wanted to know the truth."


Okay, I’m 33 and I can’t claim that kind of deep background knowledge of how to handle relationships with men. I was pleasantly surprised by her poise and confidence. And then I was horrified that an 8 ½ year old is even having a conversation with a boy about whether he is cheating on her with another girl. Dear god, has our culture really arrived at the place where 8 year olds are dealing with infidelity?!! I suppose they aren’t engaging in the more adult “simultaneous sexual partners” infidelity we’ve all lived through at some point (some more recently than others), but it doesn’t really make me feel better that Romance! Drama! Betrayal! are factors in an 8 or 9 year old’s daily life. And there seems to be no way around it, even in homes like hers where the atmosphere is not in the least permissive.

What ever happened to the glory days when an 8th grade girl would be made fun of by a bunch of guys for asking, “What’s ‘head’?” when she heard them wondering if Tracy gave it. Or when a freshman girl could get laughed at by her good friend Todd (who’ll never read this blog so no worries) when he was telling her about having jerked off the night before and getting busted by his mother, and she asked in a very academic manner, “I don’t get it. Why would you do that? What’s the appeal?”

I mean, that girl could have genuinely existed. Circa 1988 or something. You know, like, maybe she was real and that stuff really did happen. And that would be no shame on her part for being so ignorant of raw human sexuality, right? I mean, she was totally cool in other ways, was class president, totally had friends and a social life (although was definitely in the Not Putting Out category of girls, for you guys at home keeping score). She just didn’t really have the 411 on the definition of “blow job” and couldn’t quite figure out the physics of how or why someone would do it.

Is that so wrong? But more importantly, is that so retro these days? That I—erm, I mean “a girl”—could make it to 14 or 15 years old and be 100% unaware of oral sex and “self-love”? I feel like such a relic even writing this, as if I’m saying I wore a chastity belt and didn’t show my ankles to members of the opposite sex till within the bonds of holy parentally-arranged matrimony. I knew where babies came from, I knew that daddy put his seed into mommy because he loved her very much and all that crap, I had friends who were physically active with their boyfriends, I thought particular guys were so cute and wanted to kiss them and engage in what Jerry Falwell would call “heavy petting.” I was all over the Evil That Was Heavy Petting. I knew about getting horny and what it led to; I wasn’t a Prudie Judie. I just didn’t know the specifics (until, of course, irony of ironies, I went to a Presbyterian Church camp and woke up to find the camp counselor who worked in the kitchen cooking up some sausage dish with the girl in the bunk next to me). I had even—I’ll go so far as to confess now that my parents can’t forbid me from going to his house after school—felt it in a mad way for Ryan, for whom I had felt a longing from my days as a totally fat 6th grader swooning over his amazing seventh grade-ness in student council meetings all the way to my freshman year of high school when we finally actually dated….oh that’s right—until I couldn’t find a way to deem him sponge-worthy before his junior prom.

But I digress. All of these boy issues seemed a bit overwhelming to me at 16 and 17 and, for god’s sake, at 33. I’m in agony that my 8 ½ year old niece is well on her way to having all of those feelings and issues and potential emotional black holes be part of her universe long before it needs to be. How do we take such a smart and well-spoken and poised 9-ish year-old and protect her from all the stuff that’s out there that just shouldn’t mar the canvas that is her beautiful child’s soul? All-girl’s school? Bans on Lindsay Lohan movies? Bar her from speaking with boys? All of these and none of these are the answer, I suppose. It's already out there, so even in not having some things in your house doesn't keep your child away from it.

I just don’t know. All I know is, if some punk-ass boy even BREATHES the words “blow job” in her direction before she’s in college, he’ll be physically unable to ever get one, courtesy of Auntie Haggis and her Hebrew Hammer.

Do ya feel lucky, punk? Huh? Do ya?!

More Cowbell!!

I'm staying at my sister's due to an ice storm that has made travel back to DC unsafe until tomorrow. One of the key features of her house is my brother in law's mind-boggling CD collection. He has hundreds of them, mostly from his childhood/adolescence in the late 1970's. His collection is a bizarre mishmosh of musical acts that don't seem to go together. I'm talking Rush, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Zeppelin, the Eagles, Pink Floyd--followed by Prince, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Elton John and Def Leppard. It's like a collection in which fans of all of the first list of bands would beat the crap out of people who listened to the second list of bands. I can't figure out how they peacefully coexist on his shelves.

What I also can't figure out is why I felt compelled to burn them all to my laptop. The only Foreigner song I know is that balladish one about "I want to know what love is," the only Zeppelin song I know is Stairway to Heaven, the only Rush song I know don't know any Rush songs. Pretty much you can sum up my knowledge of classic rock bands (are those even classic rock? or more 70's guitar rock? whatever) by the statement, "I became aware of them when they did a really sh*tty song with synthesizers and some backup from Chaka Khan or Jane Weidlin from the GoGos circa 1983; until then I had no idea of their voluminous catalog of arena rock staples." I heard about Robert Plant when he did that song in a band called The Honeydrippers that went, "do you remember when we met, that was the day I knew you were my something..." to a kind of 50's retro tune. I didn't know who Glenn Frey was till he did some truly dreadful tunes for the Beverly Hills Cop movies and also Miami Vice.

And yet here I am, uploading freakin' Foghat to my laptop as if I'm ever going to listen to them. Maybe it's just the thought that maybe some day I'll get to Blue Oyster Cult. Or maybe it's something to do besides watch "How I Met Your Mother" on CBS with them. Or maybe it's like the movie "The Ice Storm," where instead of inviting the neighbors over for a 1970's style key party, I just decide to skip the fanfare and spend the night with Mr. Steely Dan.

Bush Finds Dictionary; Reads Bible; Has Epiphany About Torture

I saw a headline somewhere today that said, "Bush and McCain reach deal on torture." It's funny on its syntactical face, simply because the mental image of two people sitting at a big table for the purpose of coming to some great Three-Fifths Compromise on what constitutes torture makes me laugh a little. But not laugh Ha Ha; more of a laugh of derision, a "heh!" rather than a "hoo hoo hoo ha!"

See the difference?

In any case I am glad that we finally as a nation forced the commander in chief (who never actually served in any military actions and therefore never risked capture and torture by the enemy himself) to acknowledge publicly that the United States does not endorse torture. Obviously it will still occur as long as this compassionate conservative/rule of law administration can find a way to pull out some toenails and electrocute some genitals in the service of Truth, Freedom and Democracy. But at least we made him say it: torture is wrong.

It's pretty shocking it took this long to get the President on board. A reasonable person would assume that one of the best means of protecting our men and women in uniform is by maintaining the moral high ground on the subject of torture. Without that, any captor can say, "hey--the CIA would do it to us, so it's game-on for you." You'd think a President from a Strong Military/Dems are weak on defense party platform would connect the dots just a little more easily than he did.

Although, as Tony Kushner once said, "What used to be called liberal is now called radical, what used to be called radical is now called insane, what used to be called reactionary is now called moderate, and what used to be called insane is now called solid conservative thinking."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Bah. There's (of course) already a site about goatees. Although this one seems semi-supportive, which is a bona fide crime against humanity as far as I'm concerned. Where is the Patriot Act when you need it to monitor un-American and dangerous online content, huh?!!

Here are a few from I rest my case on the Prison P***y thing. It has even gone intergenerational, hasn't it, Mr. Burl Ives?

Ixnay on the UManchufay

Euan Blair. You may be the hottie boy-band-worthy son of Britain's hottie prime minister, but that does not give you free reign to sport a goatee. As The Haggis has ALWAYS said, "There is not a man alive who looks better with a goatee than he'd look without it."

It's just a rule, people. A rule. A law. An unfungible truth of human existence. Want a beard? Go for it. Want a mustache? Go for it. Want to ride that line between the two? Absolutely not.

My dear friend who shall remain nameless calls it (and I apologize for the shockingly profane nature of the characterization): "a prison p**sy." Now, I don't know much about prison beyond the old newsreels of Elvis doing his Jailhouse Rock and perhaps those episodes of OZ that are so well acted you just have to watch them even though you are losing your lunch in the process; but I have to imagine that any facial hair style that can be classified as a vehicle for same-sex physical violation might compel you to reconsider it.

This is all I'm sayin'. If I see one more guy with a goatee, I'm going to start my counterpart to "Fear The Mullet" and I'll call it "Prison P**sy Panic." Don't make me do it. Go home and shave right now. Yes, Euan, I mean YOU.

The 101% Anniversary

My Haggis posts may not convey The Real E sometimes what with all of my F's and S's and "let's express collective outrage at stupid people!" rants. Most of the time that is by design, to be honest. But I think that some small element of my essential nature manages to slip out from time to time. One such element, which I am going to just throw out there for your derision/enjoyment/boredom is my sentimental obsession with dates. I like to remember Big Days. I like to mark history, to see things as one small part of a very large continuum. I think that is what drew me to History as a course of study in college; I loved the idea that issues we deal with now had their origins 60 or 70 years ago, such as the changed role of women in WWII leading to the equal rights/feminism movement of the 60's and 70's. How arms we sold countries half a world away in 1979 helped to create dictators or ideologies we are now trying to overthrow or contain. I love the fact that everything is connected to everything else, and I love that looking back shows that connection, which is why I love to mark important dates.

One particular sentimental thing I do is acknowledge the time when I have known someone longer than I hadn't known them. My oldest college friend and I had been friends for 13 years. Considering I met him when I was 19, it always kind of struck me as cool and wonderful that in 6 years he and I would officially have been in each other's lives longer than we hadn't. It's kind of a neat milestone that is, arguably, harder to reach the older you get, but it's still pretty cool.

With that in mind, this month marks the milestone that The Bambina and I have now officially known each other longer than we haven't. She was 9 months old when we met, and we have now passed the nine month mark for being home together. Obviously I feel like we were connected long before we met, and obviously I feel like I was always her mother but we just hadn't met yet. But there's something nice about looking at your child and knowing that she has been with you longer than she hasn't. It helps mark the occasion of becoming a family while giving me that feeling I talked about in the Eternal Sunshine post that the time "Before Bambina" doesn't seem to have ever existed.

Although I do vaguely recall a time when I was spending lots of money on shoes, working out every day, sleeping till 9 on weekends and flying cross-country regularly for fun. I think it used to happen; I can sense it somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Could it really have been like that?

Nah...Can't be. I can't imagine I ever paid retail for shoes... :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Top Whatever of 2005

Tis the season for lazy broadcasting. I am speaking of the long-awaited and much-maligned practice of filling TV time with "VH1's Top Boob Jobs of 2005" and "WWE's Craziest Motherf*&^%rs of 2005" and their ilk.

I cannot stand these shows, although it must be the greatest job in the world to put them together. Can you see the staff meeting: "Okay, kids! This month we are doing NO original work! So go out and get hammered nightly, stay up till all hours banging your new girlfriends, playing video games, whatever. Because we will require exactly ZERO HOURS of your intellect during the month of December! Mazel Tov!"

I'd love a job like that, where you simply compile a list of things you deem "the best," "the worst," "the funniest," "the stupidest," "the most axis of evilest," and you're home for dinner by 5pm. All you need is for other people to be best, worst, stupid, funny or evil and you're laughing all the way to the bank.

Which gives me an idea.....

Let's initiate The Haggis' Top Something of 2005! But what? Top statements made by a politician that sound made-up? Crappiest hemoglobin levels of 2005? Top Ten Celebrity Breakups that Mirror our Situation in Iraq?

yeah! That's it! Top Ten Celebrity Breakups that Mirror our Situation in Iraq.

I'll do Number Ten:

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey: "Journalists" were embedded with them (for their MTV show) to highlight the rosy state of affairs. Publicists told us for months that things were just fine, that no betrayal or lying had occurred and that the situation was better than ever. The divorce is underway, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I just saw this movie last weekend, mostly because it had gone up the hierarchy in my Netflix queue without me noticing--and oh well it's here I might as well watch it so I can send it back and not feel like I've wasted my money.

I generally cannot watch Jim Carrey without wanting to open a vein. Kate Winslet I love, but I was thinking she was going to be annoying in this film. And of course, I absolutely cannot bear to watch Kirsten Dunst in anything. So before I even hit play I was resigning myself to annoyance and irritation--and all so I could comfort myself that I hadn't wasted maybe six dollars on my netflix selection. You can tell it was a slow night otherwise...

Well, what can I say? I didn't love the movie, but I Felt Something while watching it, and that is more than I can say for most films, including those I actually, consciously, actively like.

What got me [right here] about this movie was the way it taps into that feeling you have when you have been with someone for so long--for both good and bad--that you somehow can't quite picture what your life was like before them. What Jim Carrey is experiencing as he's erasing his memories of his relationship with Kate Winslet really nails that feeling of almost-confusion or discombobulation that The Special Someone was not present when you were in high school or when you crashed your old car or when you went Christmas caroling with your youth group. It also nails the way you almost convince yourself that the person was there a la, "You remember my aunt; she was at the family reunion." "I didn't know you when you went to your family reunion." "Are you sure? I could swear you were there!"

It is so painful to watch them fight with each other during their relationship about the same things over and over again. But it was truly more painful to watch them try to delete each other from their memories without success. Jim Carrey was perfect for this role in his weariness with the way things were between them, his anger that she made the move to delete him first and subsequent F-U to her to get his memory erased as well, and in his desperate, subconscious fight to preserve the memory of her, even as the erasure is occurring. You just feel for him with every molecule in your body.

So, short story long, Eternal Sunshine was without a doubt very painful to watch...just not for the reasons I had anticipated. So, if you are prone to ignoring your Netflix queue, you might want to key this one up in a random spot so that someday soon when you are least expecting it, it will arrive and knock you on your a**.

ps--the title of the movie is from an Alexander Pope poem about memory and love:
"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!/ The world forgetting, by the world forgot./ Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!/ Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."

pps--Here is a Slate review that does it better than I just did:
Joel isn't happy like that blameless vestal in his forgetting—quite the opposite. And it's here that Kaufman shows his real genius. As Joel travels back through his memories of the relationship—not the most recent ones, which come first and are nasty, but the earlier ones, the moments in which Joel and Clementine had a deep and pure connection—he remembers what he loved in her. He goes to a heartbreaking time in which she talks about her fears of being ugly as a child, and he pleads with the technicians in the heavens (who can't hear him—he's sleeping): "Please let me keep this memory." In that instant, maybe halfway through, the picture transforms into a different kind of story, in which the object is not to let go of one's memories but hang onto them, whatever the cost. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is like a topsy-turvy Orpheus and Eurydice, in which the hero must look back—and back and back—or his beloved will be lost forever.

Character is Destiny

John McCain's new book of "Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember" is beautifully reviewed by the always-reliable EJ Dionne in last Sunday's Washington Post Book World.

I loves me my Book World. I don't have time to research all the new books on the shelves, so Book World offers a (as the British say) "fragrant nosegay" of what's out there and what might be interesting. I look forward to Book World on a Sunday as much as I look forward to the Outlook (op-ed) section and the Sunday Source (location of the divine Carolyn Hax's advice column).

Back to Senator McCain. This book sounds like a great purchase for children and adults alike. What I love most about John McCain is that he doesn't (like some other notable Republicans) pretend to possess all of the qualities for which he's honoring the 34 people in the book, among them George Washington, Winston Churchill, Oseola McCarty (the woman who gave her $150K life savings as a washerwoman to the University of Mississippi), MLK Jr. and Victor Frankl. I like that because it makes it seem like less of a 1950's classroom textbook-style, multi-personed hagiography and more of a small window into the man that is John McCain.

EJ Dionne summarized it this way:

"In summarizing for his readers the lessons they might take from these tales 'for the important choices in your own life,' McCain offers this view of the human condition: 'We are born with one nature. We want what we want, and want it now. But as we grow, we develop our second nature, our character. These stories are about that second nature." He also said, "The most important thing I have to WANT what they had, integrity, and to feel the sting of my conscience when I have risked it for some selfish reason."

Beautifully stated definitions of character and integrity; qualities sadly missing in many adults, never mind our kids.

Monday, December 12, 2005

No Mercy: The Williams Execution

The Haggis is ambivalent/undecided/unsure about how to swing on the death penalty. I'm torn. A grad school classmate of mine was carjacked and murdered back in 1994, and whenever I think about the human garbage who shot her getting out and having Thanksgiving dinner with his mama, I wish to god he'd been executed. Cruel and inhuman? I don't know. If you can imagine your sister or daughter or girlfriend bleeding to death in a parking lot from gunshot wounds, you can imagine what a "cruel and inhuman" end to a human life might be. I'm not so sure being injected in the arm quite compares.

On the other hand, what does executing someone do? It's not a deterrent; I know that. It doesn't bring my classmate back. It doesn't heal her family's loss. It just ensures that his family feels a similar (though not as painful) loss. And it puts the right to kill a human in the hands of the state, which does freak me out a bit.

But, in the case of Williams specifically, I'm kind of leaning toward thinking Schwarzenegger did the right thing. This man started THE CRIPS! How many people have died as a result of this gang? Not to mention the family he killed in cold blood--and laughed about it. Whatever "good" he has done in the meantime should be an issue between him and his Maker. Crimes here on earth must be punished here on earth. The family he killed is no less dead simply because he had a Quote-Unquote Change of Heart. If that's the way out of any criminal sanction, we can all kill anyone we want to as long as we promise to be good later. We can do anything at all as long as we promise to feel bad about it.

Perhaps I'm taking the Williams case less seriously simply because he has become a Hollywood cause celebre. Whenever Jesse Jackson, Sister Helen Prejean and Snoop Dogg feel compelled to support someone, you can be pretty sure he's guilty. Kind of like Mumia. The Philadelphia cop killer who has magically been transformed from a street hood killer into a "peace activist" and leftie icon. It's tiresome.

I know I'm not articulating this very well, perhaps precisely because of my ambivalence about the death penalty. But I can't deny that the world will be a better place without Tookie Williams in it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Something About Asians

There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a school in Cupertino, CA wherein (the article stated) there was a "white flight" due to the perceived overambitiousness of the incoming Asian population. This article sparked discussions around the country about white flight, Asian ambition, immigrant Asians vs. American-born Asians, and in general created a story where none existed.

The superintendent of that school has since said that they routinely disenroll students--of all races--whose parents have fudged residency requirements in order to send their children there, so where is the white flight? Others have objected to the article's failure to mention all of the white parents in Cupertino and around the country who unapologetically push their kids toward AP classes and Ivy League colleges, and somehow don't get an article written about their WASPy or Mormon or Jewish overambition.

To me, the most important response to this article has been the outrage at the use of the term, "Asian" as if it refers to one culture or one group of people. It shows a total disregard for history, not to mention a basic journalistic laziness, not to mention a good dose of {intended or not} racism.

Referring to cultures--and implying stereotypical characteristics--simply based on geographic location is ludicrous. A good example is our very own USA. Canadians, Americans and Mexicans are all North Americans. If the Japanese press wrote an article about "North Americans," and ascribed cultural values to the US that were not accurate, we'd wonder where Japanese journalists get their credentials. But here, we allow journalists to use the term "Asian" to describe people from multiple countries and cultures and histories--and we let them get away with it.

So, what "Asians" were they talking about in Cupertino? Chinese? Japanese? Thai? Cambodian? Taiwanese? Korean? Vietnamese? Laotian? Filipino? Americans of "Asian" descent? Perhaps students whose parents are of several ethnic backgrounds? It was a piece of lazy journalism; and not only that, it created news where none previously existed, which is less journalism and more agitprop performance art.

Maybe situations like this affect me more now that I have a daughter of Chinese descent. Before becoming her mother I certainly didn't give much thought to many of these issues, but now my life absolutely requires that I do. Do Americans understand the painful and raw history between China and Japan? Do we understand the history of the US's involvement in Korea? Do we know that Chinese people have been in the United States for generations, many of whom built the railroads out west? Do we only see "Asians" as something "other" or do we see people who are as different from each other as a Pole is to a Cossack? Do we see our own histories as very specific and important treasures but see that of "Asians" as, well, aren't they all the same thing?

It's important that we challenge ourselves and our media to think about and process and act upon questions just such as this. Is there a reason we are failing in the "world public opinion" sweepstakes? Could our total lack of knowledge of other cultures, nations, histories and languages be part of the reason we are seen as cultural (and now military) imperialists by most of the rest of the world? More importantly, how does that ignorance affect our country right here at home?

I find solace in the comedy of Margaret Cho story (an American-born comedian of Korean descent) who constantly faces these kind of ignorance-fueled situations from clueless people. One of my favorites is when she was doing a TV interview to publicize her new TV-show back in the 90's, and the interviewer said, "Thanks for being with us, Margaret, now could you tell our viewers in your native language that we'll be right back with sports and the weather?!" So she smiled and said, "Um. Okay: They'll be right back with sports and the weather..."

Coalition Provisional Authority Phrasebook

From an old (March 2004) issue of The New Yorker, in which Paul Bremer stated, "I am taking Arabic lessons every day," but stated that he found the language "very difficult." To assist him, Andy Borowitz offered the following statements, among others, on one side of the column with the Arabic translation on the other:

"Until the power's back on, anybody for charades?"

"The next train to Basra will depart in 2009."

"There is no soap in my hotel room; also, no walls and no ceiling."

"Could you please direct me to the weapons of mass destruction?"

"Believe me, I, too, want my fat ass out of here."

"I'd like my eggs fried, not thrown at my car."

"Excuse me, has anyone here heard of Ahmad Chalabi?"

"I tried to establish democracy in the Middle East and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bitter Betty: My Alter Ego

People who know me see me as this sort of funny, very upbeat, totally positive individual. (I think. Unless you want to add "deluded" to that list...) But only the people who know me best (and I guess now, you, dear reader) know that I have a very nasty alter ego I have named Bitter Betty.

E sees someone saying something annoying and thinks, "you are more to be pitied than scorned. Or, actually, you are pitied in my heart but scorned on my blog." Bitter Betty, alternatively, says, "F*** you, a-wipe, for thinking that!"

Bitter Betty was out in force today. Bitter Betty was not havin' it. She was not playin' wit you. And she most certainly was not gettin' wit how you roll.

To wit, I was in full-on Betty mode. I went to what I thought was a routine doctor's appointment only to find out I am falling apart hematologically. Just some seriously crappy blood counts leading to some very solemn "hmmming" and "I seeing" from my doctor, leading to me getting mad that I can't seem to buy a break these days, leading to me deciding to hate stupid people who don't know how good they've got it.

I ended up at a "regular" hospital rather than at NIH (which is a whole separate post you don't even want to begin reading), and I sh*t you not, was sitting in a waiting room listening to one of the hospital staff talk about how "totally bummed" she is to be turning 30. I tried to ignore her, but she kept yammering away to her colleagues about "Yep. Three-Oh has really got me sad; I'm not handling it well." It was literally all I could do to not get out of my chair, walk up to her behind The Desk and say, "FUCK YOU, YOU STUPID MORONIC BITCH! WHAT IS YOUR PLANNED ALTERNATIVE TO TURNING THIRTY AND THANKING GOD FOR THE GOOD FORTUNE TO DO SO?!!?" I'm like, you are sitting behind the desk in a freakin' hematology/oncology department and you are seriously going on and on about how you're so sad and so not prepared for another birthday?!! Could you take that outside? Did you not notice yourself surrounded by people--22 and 33 and 55 and 78--who are PRAYING for another birthday?!! FUCK YOU, YOU STUPID, SELFISH, MORONIC, SELF-INVOLVED BITCH!"

Um. Did I just say that out loud?

Good thing I didn't! But I was definitely thinking it. Actually, Bitter Betty was. E was all peace and goodwill and continuous dedication to finding humor in tragedy.

Blame it on Betty. Who apparently puts * in the word shit but puts fuck in ALL CAPS.

Scott McClellan: King of the Dipsh*ts

I know I'm not expressing an original thought when I state how unimpressive is the White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. I used to cringe at Dee Dee Myers, but dang if Scott hasn't stolen the crown of mediocrity right off her head.

Wow. His demeanor and delivery are reminiscent of Conan O'Brien during his first season back in 1993. A big pile of nervousness, tentative manner of speaking, a tendency toward cottonmouth, and a seeming discomfort with public performance. All of which lead to the inevitable question of why this person was chosen for this gig--a gig and milieu so seemingly ill-suited to its owner's abilities.

To be fair, Conan did get funnier and more comfortable as the seasons progressed. And also to be fair, Mr. McClellan's press interrogators ain't such sharp pencils either. Their delivery and demeanor take me back to college lectures where That One Kid would, upon the professor's statement that "we have only 4 minutes left in class; does anyone have any questions?" immediately raise their hand in Full Horshack 'Ooo ooo oooh!" mode and proceed not with a question but with a statement of their own insipid beliefs that took the class long past its ending time. You know that kid. Some of you WERE that kid. Damn you.

So all I was thinking as I was watching today's press briefing on C-SPAN was "this is a room full of people I'd rather eat glass than hang out with in real life. How is it that they are running the country, writing about those who run the country, and how is it that I am watching them with interest?"

Either they are huge morons...or I am.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I'll Take The Urine Flavor

The Bambina has taken to putting everything she can find into her pockets. This is a great thing, except she thinks that "pockets" are any opening in her clothing. So "down her shirt" is a pocket. "Into the sides of her overalls and down her legs" is a pocket. So too is "down the front of her diaper."

Yesterday she helped me put away groceries after which we sat down on the living room floor while she drew pictures while dancing to the Wiggles while yelling, "Melmo!!" (ie, Elmo). Lots of activity, during which I noticed a huge bulge in her overalls. I was thinking, "oh dear god, that is the MOTHER OF ALL POOPS!" So I started patting her down in my motherly Sipowicz kind of way. I pulled out--and I'm not kidding--

1 sippy cup, size small
4 markers
2 blocks, one red, one "bupple!" (purple)
1 pooh book, very small square handheld kind
1 broken Blackberry (I guess she heard about the lawsuit...)


1 partially removed diaper into which had been placed two packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal; one regular, one apple cinnamon.

Oatmeal. Kid-tested. Mother Approved.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

DC Passes Smoking Ban


But here's the best part:

It won out over a proposal by former Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry (and current councilmember for the lucky residents of Ward 8) to indeed pass the ban, but to exempt "bars, taverns and nightclubs."

Of course, Councilman Barry! Let's ban smoking everywhere BUT bars, taverns and nightclubs! Because the whole impetus for the ban was all those terrible people smoking in libraries, hospitals and child care centers, right?!

I can't make this stuff up, you know.

Let It Snow!

Yesterday was a miserable freakin' day for lots of reasons. I was not in a good mood, was just feeling mad, sad, bad, egad, gonad and un-rad.

You get the point. Bad day, bad week, bad everything.

So I was steeped heartily in my own little funk when it was time for The Bambina to wake up from her nap, during which about 3 inches of snow had fallen. So, taking my cue from The Sages who say that you are supposed to do things even if you don't feel like doing them because in the doing will come the feeling, I opened the blinds and showed her the falling snow outside blanketing the grass and trees and cars. I showed her not because I was feeling the excitement about it myself, but because that's what parents are supposed to do when it is their child's first snowfall/lunar eclipse/keg stand/whatever.

She took one look outside and her face just went elastic, like, "What in the HELL is this?! It's magic! It's magic! Oh my lord! How can something this amazing be happening in front of my own little eyes!? It's like a dream come true! Mama, have you been reading my diary?!!"

She started laughing that musical, beautiful, jubilant laugh that only kids can do. It's the laugh of "part funny, part wonder, part joyous disbelief." It's the laugh that cheeseball people like Kathie Lee Gifford or Michael Landon as Paw Ingalls would have said makes you see the world in a new, childlike way.

Damn if the cheeseballs don't win this one. Her wide eyed joy and bubbly laughter stopped me dead in my tracks and forced me to see the world in a new way. A world where the smallest thing can bring you higher even when you are feeling tremendously low. A world where something as pedestrian as snow can make you feel like the world is a beautiful and magnificent and inspired place. A world where you realize that you always have the choice of how to spend your days in that world. You can succumb to the often-understandable urge to look out the window and see negativity, despair or hurt, or you can make the conscious choice to look out the window and see something old in a new way.

It might be snow. It might be your neighbors. It might be your friends.
Or it might be your own self reflecting back at you.

A Late Post About USC

Yeah, I know I'm a few days behind on the "woo hoo! USC!" bandwagon. Chalk it up to a busy life, which I guess would be a better excuse if this post weren't going to be so short. All I could say when I saw how the game ended with the lopsided score was:

"Is this college football or JV basketball?"

Fight on.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Do I Make You Horny, Baby?!!!?

Ginny is a nurse at NIH who is a dear and lovely woman who cares deeply for her patients, loves to make us laugh---but who lacks an internal monologue. There is not a thought that enters her head that does not come careening out of her mouth without warning.

When I told her I was adopting from China she launched into a whole screed about her brother who adopted from Romania and ohmygodthatkidhassomanyproblemsohmygod--sobecarefulthatthekidisn't

Then in the same breath she'd say, "I'm so excited for you! Bring photos as soon as you get them!" Um, you mean you want photos of my chineseadoptedretardedtroubledbaby? Okay, I'll get right on that.

Although I am doing a terrible job of creating the picture with this post, she really is a lovely and well-meaning lady. She just has no filter between brain and mouth. Take last Friday's visit for example. Among the joyous cocktails of meds I've been on, I'm currently taking one that has a plethora of interesting side effects, some of which I've had, some of which I haven't. One of the reported side effects is, well, (mom, dad, rabbi, and anyone else to whom I'm related, please stop reading here).."increased libido." (For the rest of the story to make sense it will also be key to know that a healthy hemoglobin [blood oxygen] level is between 12 and 15 somethingorothers per millisomething; less than 10 isn't great; less than 8 is misery; less than 7 and they're wondering how you got there without passing out).

So as Ginny is taking my vitals, asking about my meds/dosages/etc and chatting with me in front of a couple of other nurses and my very shy off-the-boat-from-Russia (male) doctor, she says, "Doesn't that stuff make you horny? Have you been horny from that?"


Shy Russian doctor turns red and starts to stammer. Other nurse gasps. Other nurse looks at me apologetically. Ginny says, "Well?! What's the deal? Horny or not?!"

And I, graduate of the "Evading Tim Russert" School of Political Doublespeak, say:

"Ask me again when my hemoglobin isn't 6.2..."

Do Not Remove These Magazines

It's a sign we see frequently at doctor and dentist's offices, or even at the Jiffy Lube: "Do Not Remove Magazines from this Waiting Room."

Someone at NIH took that command waaaay seriously. I was doing another of my all-day gigs there and picked up una revista called "American Woman." I was a little surprised to see Annie Potts on the cover, but I figured there was probably some Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movie either on Lifetime or CBS that she was promoting. Then I started reading all about "How to tell if he is cheating on you" and it was offering advice like "hire a P.I., check his receipts, does he have matchbooks in his drawer?, etc." I was thinking, "man, this is a CRAP magazine! What about googling his nicknames (s*x site personas aren't entirely confidential, dahlings)? What about calling his cell to see if it is turned off in the early evenings? What about asking his assistant to check his microsoft outlook calendar to 'just confirm' that he's at lunch with....right!...that's her name!"

A bit befuddled I continued reading, to the "Beauty Secrets of the Stars" article featuring Susan Sarandon, Ellen Barkin and Kim Basinger. Whaaaaaat?! Then I looked at the fine print on the cover: May 1993.

I kid you not.

May 1993.

I don't know about you, but I can't find my tax returns from 2003 much less have held onto a magazine from 1993! I am so intrigued to find out how it got there, who brought it, and--furthermore--why they thought it would be enjoyable reading.

Oh wait. It was!


Courtesy of my girl Miko:

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; the conditions of the light bulb are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are the work of naysayers and doubters in the liberal media. The light bulb is performing an honorable service to the American people, and those who question its efficacy are only lending aid and support to the darkness, hampering the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chanukah Gelt

We're starting a new tradition for The Bambina. This will be her first Chanukah, the holiday made semi-famous by the Maccabees and wildly famous by Adam Sandler. As Adam sings, Chanukah has "eight crazy nights," each of which involves gift-giving. It's important to note that the "gift" each night of Chanukah has traditionally been (until recent days of competing with all the gentiles for who can bestow the most stuff on their ingrate kids in the space of one month) something more akin to a stocking stuffer than an actual gift. A pack of cards, some coloring pencils, you get the idea. The "big gift" as it's called always comes on the 8th night. That's when you get the gift that's been on layaway since September at the local Bradlees or Save-On. It's the bike or the Atari or whatever.

As we approach the Inaugural Bambina Chanukah we've decided in Casa d'Haggis that even though the gifts over the course of the eight nights will not be permitted to be lavish regardless, the Third Night of Chanukah will henceforth be the night that The Bambina's gift is the opportunity to give something of hers to someone else. Yep. On the third night, Bambina is getting the chance to dip into her allowance or her gift money and we'll dip into the family money, and we'll donate it to a charity she chooses and/or we'll volunteer at the charity as well. It'll be great as she gets older to work with her to choose a nonprofit that interests her and to see the citizen she will become as a result.

I want to make sure that she understands how life works, how some people can work hard and still be poor, how community members must help each other, and how someone to whom much has been given, much is expected. We ain't rich, but we'll always have enough to at least give something to someone who needs it on a night when we are blessed with gifts. I've seen kids who, by virtue of their parental incomes, have fallen backwards into a pot of gold and then acted like they were born with a precious-metal locater ass. I ain't raisin' that kid in my house.

So this year's charities (selected by me because she's still a baby and because I'm the Mom and I said so!) are as follows:


Helps servicemen and women get home to their families for the holidays by providing money for airline tickets their really huge* military incomes don't cover. We're sending the cash a little early since Chanukah is so late this year.


A local DC charity that helps abused and/or homeless women and their kids. It's hard to relate on one level to people with whom you don't think you have anything in common. And then you imagine a mother escaping an abusive environment with her 6 week old baby and you just want to help however you can.

I know this is an early post since Chanukah doesn't actually start this year till, ironically, December 25th. But as you know from my previous posts, I just love to copy Christmas and get in that Holly Jolly Hasmonean (look it up) Spirit as soon as possible. Today, my early Chanukah charity post. Tomorrow: blinking menorah earrings, baby! ;)