Thursday, November 30, 2006

Haggis is Closed

The Haggis is closed until Saturday. Tomorrow we will be attending services for my friend who passed away this week. It's still difficult to comprehend her loss, to believe it is real. Such a gigantic force of nature in such a petite package. Still, she lives on in very real ways: her family, her friends, the memories we have of her, the lessons we learned from her, all the ways in which we can live our lives to bring honor to her memory.

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!" Gone where? Gone from my sight---that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There! She's gone!" there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "There! She comes!"

And that is dying.

Happiness Is In The Eye of the Booger Holder

Yesterday Bambina and I set up a tent under the dining room table. We got her Dora the Explorer sheet and put one end on the table under books, and stretched the bottom end out to her little activity table. She was having such a great time under there, just as I remember doing when I was a kid.

We started talking about what makes us happy. I told her that being her mama made me happy. She told me that "the sun" and "the moon" make her happy. I asked her, "What else makes Bambina happy?" She put her finger up her nose, pulled out a wee gift and proudly and delightedly announced, "My boogers make me happy!!"

Take One For the Team, Hillary

A brief but on-point post outlining why Hillary Clinton should not run for President. Thank you, Andrew Sullivan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Memory of S.

Peace my heart...

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

~Rabindranath Tagore

In Memory of an amazing woman who passed away tonight; someone else's words because none of my own will come.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

100 Brachas

King David, back in the day, promulgated that all Jews should say 100 brachas (blessings) every day in order to thank G-d for all he has done for us.

Needless to say, I've been running a wee bit behind on my quota.

And then came Thanksgiving in New Jersey when I read a wee article in one of those poorly-edited, over exclamated!!!, full of local engagement/marriage/inside-baseball goings-on, Jewish community newspapers (that could easily have been the local Armenian, Italian or insert-ethnic-group-here community newspaper), wherein I was reminded of the 100 Blessings. It got me to thinking, maybe KD was onto something. Maybe by stopping and actually saying thank you 100 times a day, we'd not only create a different mental situation for ourselves but perhaps create a whole new reality in our relationships with others.

For example, the next day I was at a Shop Rite I've never been to before. I was buying acetaminophen for my still-twingeing back. I was irritated that I was wasting precious time at this stupid f'ing store looking for stupid f'ing store brand pain reliever and feeling simply incredulous that they could have set up the stupid f'ing store in such a profoundly idiotic and unintuitive way that I--oh great one I--could not find the logic in finally finding tylenol in the stupid f'ing dog food aisle. And just as I was at my most irritated, a really cute orthodox-looking guy walked past and smiled at me with his eyes. Not with his mouth. But he definitely smiled with his eyes in a totally non-flirty way. Just a nice, honest-to-goodness look of total contentment.

Now, follow my thought pattern, weird though it may be (although sadly indicative of how my mind works):
Oh, cute Orthodox dude at 3 o'clock!
Nice eyes
If King David were alive today, would he be orthodox?
Black hat orthodox, even?
I bet King David had nice eyes
Oh yeah, the 100 Brachas
How am I doing at that?
I'm at negative 36 brachas today in this store alone
I'm a jerk
Thank you god for smiling eyes
Thank you god for giving me the health to walk through a Shop Rite like a slightly dialed-down Andy Rooney
Thank you god for Andy Rooney
Thank you god for aching backs--no, scratch that; brachas have to be honest and not catty toward the Creator
Thank you god for giving humans the intelligence and werewithal to invent acetaminophen for aching backs created by your sometimes no-good creations who dump blueberries on people's front steps
Okay, brachas cannot be backhanded; try again
Thank you god for tylenol.
Now just let me get out of here and I'll thank you for competent cashiers.

Yeah. It ain't pretty.

Clearly I didn't magically turn into a nicer person because I tried to be thankful--truly thankful--100 times a day. But I did force myself to get over petty stuff much sooner than if I hadn't had the impetus to move on to the blessing after the cursin'. So maybe if we all do that: try to put the minor stuff that can be a major irritant aside for just a moment--to be thankful, for example, that we have a damn car at all that can be stuck in traffic while we try to drive to a chi chi restaurant to have dinner with someone who loves us, then maybe we can declutter our minds of all the stuff that doesn't matter and refill it with the stuff that does.

Like cute young boys smiling at you as you scowl at the Puppy Chow.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Swimsuit Royale

I'm making plans to see Casino Royale for one reason. This:

Daniel Craig is a fearless man. Not many guys, even those considered hot, could pull this off. I'd say more but I fear I'd get into cheeseball "shaken AND stirred!" "license to THRILL!" or "More like a Double O NINE!" territory. So I'll just leave it at that.

Oh--and I'll show you this for comparison, courtesy of The Sun UK's contest:

Och Aye--Happy Thoughts

A recent round of surveys showing popular support in the UK for an independent Scotland. Sweeet!!! Notice that more English people want Scotland gone than Scottish people want Scotland gone!

We have that effect on people.

The Sun (UK)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Check back on Monday for posts.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kramer Says Sorry to "Afro-Americans"

Wow. I never thought I'd be giving Michael "Kramer" Richards my Mel Gibson glasses-pulled-halfway-down-my-nose-glaring-displeasedly-over-the-frames look as I drag him by the earlobe for a proper whupping out by the woodshed. But here I go.

Michael Michael Michael. One NEVER uses the N word. One should never even THINK it. It takes a special kind of person to even have that word in their arsenal, to be pulled out when felt needed. I've had run-ins with people of all races and it has never occurred to me to ever call someone that. I'll cop to "b*tch" and whatnot, but not that. Maybe it's because you are of a previous generation? Where the word was heard and not met with a total social freeze-out? My parents would have beaten me senseless if I'd ever said it, on the theory that they raised me better than that, but not so well that I couldn't benefit from a little corporal reminder of right and wrong.

Michael dearie, my biggest fear for you is not that this shows your racism but rather that it shows your total lack of comedic talent. You had no humorous or disarming arrows in your quiver when faced with hecklers. You didn't even try to switch the humor to that old standby of the lowest common denominator: sex. You just went straight to the racial attack, which is not even comedy. It's just the hallmark of an undeveloped conscience.

I think you did the right thing apologizing, as I also told Mel. My only hint in ensuring that your apology is received in, I'm sure, the spirit you intended is to not direct it to "Afro-Americans" as if this was 1974. Although, something tells me that somewhere in your diseased psyche, it actually is.


I am about to make my very first purchase ever on EBay. Yup. I've never ever used the site for anything in all the years it has been in existence. Something about buying something sight unseen from "ValleyDad" instead of Lands End just kind of weirded me out; like, who are these people? What will they do with my info? I think I equated it with the time I sold my washer and dryer back in the day to a guy from Virginia through the classifieds. I had my friend Mark come over so I wouldn't be alone while "Potential Buyer#2" came into my house. It worked out fine, but the whole process of dealing with individual strangers weirded me out. So when EBay exploded into the cultural juggernaut that it now is, I respectfully declined any part of it.

Fast forward and now I want to buy something that I can't seem to get anywhere else. EBay is littered with ValleyDads and NCGirls who have it and want to sell it, and d*mn it, I think I'm gonna do it. I'm still skittish, but I'm going ahead with it regardless, recognizing that I still have much to learn about the entire EBay subculture.

I was looking at one seller's ratings, and every time someone gave him a bad rating like, "Took forever to get here. Bad EBayer;" he'd counter with "Called buyer 4 times, no response. Bad EBayer. NO RESPECT." I've been laughing hysterically as I read the comments, picturing Ali G or some hip hop star saying, "That's some bad EBaying, yo. No Respeck!"

People obviously take it all very seriously, so I'm just going to have to get used to it if I want my Shaun Cassidy limited edition Hardy Boys lunchbox circa 1981, aren't I?


Ninos Locos y Mamas Sanas

There is one of those amateur murals on the side of a building in a struggling area of DC that shows a man on his knees being given a hand up by someone standing. It says, “Don’t Look Down on a Man Unless You Gonna Help Him Up.” I always liked the sentiment but considered the exhortation to apply to others, since I’m too busy to be helping people up, and looking down on them is so much more fun than finding them a job, isn’t it?

I kid, I kid. But I thought about the mural on the drive home from JHU yesterday where I had been sitting in one of the many waiting areas. A young woman with two little kids was obviously having a hard time of things. She was trying to keep her baby (about 10 months old) happy while managing the exuberance of what looked like an 18-month old boy. Needless to say, the equation wasn’t balancing: one mom + two kids (+ waiting area + elevator doors + lots of people) – (extra set of arms – extra set of eyes) = a lack of necessary resources to keep things from going sideways. I have been in that position with one kid, never mind two, and was really feeling for her.

As I watched her, I noticed a lot of other people watching her too, only they weren’t thinking, “that poor woman.” They were thinking, “why can’t she control her kids? What is wrong with her?” I could see it in their faces, in the way they’d look at her disapprovingly then whisper in that I-want-you-to-hear-me non-whisper, “that kid is out of control. What is she doing?” As if sitting around judging her is going to change anything, for her or for those watching.

I was feeling bad for her, and without thinking I heard myself say, “Oh for god’s sake!” then got up and walked over to where they were sitting, plopped myself down in a seat near them, said “Hola” with a smile, asked “cuantos anos tiene?” how old is he?, told her mine was 2 ½, then started making funny faces at him to occupy him so she could read “Oso Pardo” (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, perhaps the best kiddie book ever) to the baby. As I was doing peekabo with him I suddenly realized what I was doing and I couldn’t recall making the decision to do it. I didn’t think, “gee, should I go over there? What if she doesn’t want a strange lady chatting with her kid? Maybe the kid will hate me and I’ll look stupid for trying to help.” Something just lifted my butt out of my chair and took me across the room to give a mom a break, both from the kid and from the heavy weight of disapprobation in the room. I think my brain did a millisecond’s calculation: one young mom + two young kids x waiting area of a cancer center = probably not a happy circumstance any way you look at it, so why the hell pile on as if my kid has never annoyed people, as if I’ve never looked bad in public, as if we’re all so perfect that we’ve never once made someone angrily wonder what the hell is wrong with us? Going over to the mom is something my Dad would have done, particularly relishing the opportunity to chat with a cute Latina in his very impressive Scottish-accented Spanish, but it’s not something I routinely would do, notwithstanding the verifiable cuteness of the mother.

So I played with the kid. The mom and I didn’t speak again, which is probably for the best since my Spanish is mierda most of the time, even without a Scottish accent. She and I just exchanged knowing glances and smiles for about ten minutes, and then I had to go. Partly because I had to meet with a doctor soon, and partly because the kid started hacking coughing and I was like, “Whoa! It’s been nice! NOT getting sick from any kid but my own, thank you very much!” All of which made me feel much better about myself, because it’s not in my nature (I don’t think) to randomly assist strangers, but it’s definitely in my nature to cut and run at the first sign of germs. The bitch is back.

Or, more accurately, instead of looking down on you, I’ll give you a hand up…but then I’ll use Purell.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Things For Which I’m Thankful

I may or may not get additional posting opporchancities before Thanksgiving Day. With that in mind I thought I'd start a rolling list of gratitude. Feel free to add your own.
Things For Which I'm Thankful
*My daughter.
*That I am my father’s daughter.
*One woman in China who gave birth to a baby girl in 2004, whose life-affirming actions set our very different—but forever connected—destinies in motion. Gratitude is too small a word for what I feel for her.
*My family, none of whom wish to be named in a blog.
***That I have a bunch of family who don’t want to be named in a blog.
*The smell of rain on hot asphalt in summer
*The inventor of Zone bars.
*The fact that I am Scottish by birth; some might say by the grace of God.
*That I have the best doctors in the world.
***One of whom is a hottie.
*That I had the opportunity to go to college and meet the friends I did.
***Friends who, as the cheesy saying goes, know all about me and like me anyway.
*Fried potato products.
*Andrea Bocelli’s voice.
*Ewan McGregor. All of him.
*Mom and Pop hardware stores where they actually help you sans surliness and eye-rolling.
*Seeing a deer in GiGi and BB’s back yard. I’d forgotten what a city person I was until I absolutely kvelled over seeing them, poo-pooing any notion that they eat shrubbery.
***What’s shrubbery!?
*John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease.
*Days where I look in the mirror and just for a second don’t judge myself harshly.
***Doggies' human companions who actually pick up their sh*t on the sidewalk in front of my house. My first reaction is “damn dogs!” until I remember that dogs can’t pick up their own poop. Ironically, therefore, “asswipe” is my favorite name for human companions who specifically don’t.”
*Barney Frank, god bless ‘im.
*Sacha Baron Cohen.
*The nice lady at the Dunkin Donuts who notices my hands are full of the Energizer Bambina, and who packages my coffees, etc for easiest transport without me asking, or even knowing what to ask for.
*The nice lady at the produce stand (yeah, we have a produce stand!) who gives Bambina a banana and a lollipop every time we go.
*Learning Chinese. Trust me. You are already too old to learn it properly, but nothing will give you more pride and satisfaction than making the effort. And Chinese people unlucky enough to hear you are so nice that they won’t tell you how badly you suck; they’ll just encourage you more. Even if, in trying to say “I’d like a beer (pijiu)” you end up saying, “I’d like your buttocks (pigu).”
***Lovely forgiving Chinese people who don't kick the crap out of you when you randomly compliment their intimate body parts...

Blogger has been down for most of today.

Which is why it’s been all quiet on the Haggis front.
More stuff coming soon, now that it’s back up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Got Nuthin For Ya. Again.

I know there are plenty of hot-button issues to blog about tonight, just in time for your Monday morning, but I simply can't bring myself to care enough to write.

Kissinger says the Iraq war is unwinnable with its current goals. Well, he'd sure know about unwinnable wars, wouldn't he? So, not much for me to add to that whole situation...

Then there's the TomKat wedding in Italy, wherein formerly adorable Joey Potter from Dawson's Creek publicly celebrated her much-maligned union with Mav or is it Goose? from Top Gun. So much ink has been expended dissecting and parsing and philosophizing about these two people (and progeny named Suri) that I simply just don't want to add to it on the theory that people ought to look at their own marriages, their own relationships, and ask themselves if they are being authentic, trustworthy, and couch-jumpingly loveable, rather than pondering same about bizarro celebrities.

Then there's Charles Rangel, who wants to reinstate the draft. You know, to make war more equitable among the classes, so the poor won't always be doing the fighting. Riiight. Just like back in the day when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld had to go do three tours in Vietnam because their draft numbers came up and...oh, wait. Never mind.

And of course there's John McChameleon, I mean, John McCain. He's moderate. He's a trusted right-winger. No, he's a moderate. Oh, he supported the South Dakota ban on abortion. No, he's a moderate; you can trust him, Dems! Oh, he voted to deny women in the military the use of military facilities to have abortions, he voted for Samuel Alito, and he supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion. But he's a moderate. I used to think he was the man with the plan, but now I just see a man running his last presidential race with all the desperation for righty votes he can muster. Especially since he said verbatim that if his daughter were pregnant, he'd obviously leave the decision up to her. As Scott over at LawyersGunsandMoney says: "I note that the fact that McCain wouldn't dream of applying general bans on abortion to people in his social circles doesn't make him a pro-choicer; it makes him a Republican. John McCain's daughter won't have a problem getting an abortion whether Roe is good law or not, but a lot of other women won't be so lucky. Social conservatism for thee-but-not-for-me is pretty much what social conservatism means in this country."

I'd leave this non-post at that, but one more thing must be added to the list of non-bloggable items, and that is The Gettysburg Address. Delivered on this day in 1863. Two minutes of unbelievable clarity and resolve that can't be competently discussed on any blog so I'm not even trying:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Friday, November 17, 2006

I'd Rather See You Pantsless

Courtesy of the person who used to live in this house, we receive the monthly Orvis catalog. What is Orvis, you ask? I have no earthly idea, but they do have a lot of dogs in their catalogs that delight Bambina, so I usually peruse their wares just to let her see the puppies.

The other reason I look through the catalog is that they sell weirdly compatible items that shouldn't really go together but somehow do: like super luxury dog beds on the same page with men's ties bearing likenesses of dogs in several choices of breed. Or a lifesized WWI propeller with a bomber jacket. I've always found the catalog to be amusing in a "who buys this stuff?!" kind of way. Today, however, I just simply have to put my foot down and say Enough is Enough, Orvis. The joke ends here and now.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Embroidered Holiday Cords

The tagline says, "These pants tell the world he’s got the holiday spirit."

I'm going to put forth the notion that these pants indicate something entirely different than the wearer's yuletide glee. These pants tell the world that the wearer is a massive WASP with no taste. Or a southern gentleman at his country club's annual Christmas breakfast. Or, may I suggest, a huge horse's ass.

I know some of you thought I was going to say that these pants make a man look gay, but I'm going to stop you right there and let you know that I don't know a single gay man who would ever be caught dead in these breeches. Unless he was closeted and trying to pretend to be just another country club horse's ass.

Regardless, I'm simply suggesting that we collectively acknowledge when something is disturbingly more "feliz" than "navidad," and we work together to stop it becoming socially acceptable.

Ed's note: Should we be friends and you already own these, I didn't mean to call you a horse's ass behind your back. Wear them to my house and I'll say it to your face. ;)

Speaker Pe-loser

Rule one when taking office: make your first battle a winner, even if you have to pick it yourself. The key to political power is picking a battle you can win and winning it. Hard. Right out of the gate. It creates the perception of power and success, and it makes adversaries think twice about taking you on so early in the game. It builds up good credit in the PR stakes, and it gives you a springboard to approach the more difficult issues down the line. Clinton forgot that lesson and that's how he got pummelled for "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the whole healthcare discussion in 1993, however well-intentioned those efforts were.

It's f'ing Politics 101.

Which of course is why Nancy Pelosi created a lose-lose situation for herself and for the Democratic membership when she came out in support of Murtha for Leader. Her first effort as Speaker of the House was to start an internal battle among her own troops? And all in favor of Murtha, who is as scandal-tainted as many of the 'Pubs to whom she just said good riddance? It boggles the imagination how her staff let her do this, how she will get anything done in partnership with Steny Hoyer, the victor in the Murtha-Hoyer race, and all of the members who supported him.

I was going to write, "I'm astonished," but I'm not. I'm just bummed that we have been given this golden opportunity to demonstrate our ability to govern, and the first thing our "leader" does is start a pissing match among her own troops, thereby causing the press to focus on this rather than on positive stuff, creating doubt about our ability to govern from the word Go, and in general looking like a total incompetent.

Go Dems.

Dummy Mummy

I'm sure you are familiar with the term Yummy Mummy. It describes a woman with kids who still has it goin' on. She still has all the style and attractiveness she had pre-child, instead of following the expected pattern of turning into a dowdy person wearing "mom jeans" and horrifyingly cheesy seasonal sweaters with pumpkins or reindeer on them.

I decided after the first few months home with Bambina when I wore only T-shirts and yoga pants (= expensive sweatpants), that I had to take massive, concrete action to get back on track, even if "on track" meant "wearing pants with a zipper, for crying out loud." I wasn't sure where to start, so I followed the George Costanza Principle of "Do The Opposite" of whatever my instinct was to do. So I decided to grow my short hair out long. I bought colors I would never have bought. And for mental health I tried to avoid hating myself for gaining weight on some (mercifully) short-term medication I was on, on the theory that yumminess didn't have to mean anorexicness. I also resolved to shower every day, no matter what. I know, I know. Hygiene ought to be at the top of the "yumminess" litmus test, but some days with a new baby in the house, the showers were just not happening. YUM!

Anyway, as you can imagine, in this somewhat deluded and often-quixotic quest to be a Yummy Mummy, I often have bad days. It's hard to find the time to be all "should I wear the manolo blahniks or the jimmy choos to the park today?" So to be realistic I told myself that some days I just needed to live by certain minimum standards: I'd never wear sweats, I'd never look like I had just come from a workout or gardening bender, and I'd never go more than one day without a shower. YUM! All of which is to say that I have a burgeoning collection of baseball caps which I wear liberally, since it's easy to put one on and fix your hair in that jaunty Upper East Side way that says "I MEANT to wear this. It's soccer mom chic, you pleb!"

All of which is to say that Bambina now likes to wear baseball caps. She has a favorite Red Sox one that she will wear when I'm wearing mine. However, as evidence that kids pick up everything you say, no matter how quickly and under the radar and in the distant past you said it; and how attempts to be a Yummy Mummy can rub off on your kids unexpectedly: yesterday Bambina ran upstairs and put her baseball cap on around 5pm, when we usually get ready to go to the park (but weren't going because it was pouring). Then she pretended to put on lipstick in our hallway mirror. I asked her why she was doing that. She said, "Going to park, mama. My hair messed up."

Wear Your Seatbelt

It's time for my annual November 17th post wherein I relate the story of how I almost died in a car accident in high school because I was not wearing a seat belt. I think I was too busy to put one on, or too cool to interrupt a conversation to wear it, or too full of the "King of the World," I-am-invincible attitude that makes all adolescents unbearable.

In any case, I lived because my head smashed into the console and the windshield 1/2 an inch shy of shattering my skull. Sheer, dumb luck, y'all. Nothing else. So, although it sounds like such an 80's exhortation along the lines of Mr. T saying, "Don't do drugs, fool! Stay in school!" and Nancy Reagan visiting the Drummond household on Diff'rent Strokes to "Just say no," it's still worth saying:

Wear your seatbelt. All the time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

If This Is Wednesday...

...I must be at JHU. Which means no posts till tonight, I'm afraid. Good for me, though, because it means I'm going to see my Hottie Hebrew Hematologist just in time for Thanksgiving (Thank you, Lord, for creating good-looking men, and smart doctors, and Jews. Thank you especially, Lord, for creating good-looking, smart Jewish doctors. A grateful nation of one thanks you).

As sick as this sounds, I actually like going to JHU. I mean, it would be fantastic if I wasn't going for weekly transfusions and all, but I still like going. I like the people. I like the peoplewatching. I was thinking last week how grateful I am that I'm finally at the stage of emotional development where I can see beauty in people who are not traditionally beautiful. I was walking down one hallway and saw a man who looked classically Eastern European/Baltic. He had a craggy face that told an underlying story of a hard life (whether accurate or not). He wasn't good-looking, but his face had a beauty to it that I'm glad I got to see. Only a few years ago I would either have not noticed him at all or would have pronounced him ugly, as if the whole world needs my opinion on the pulchritude of strangers. But something about his facial structure was beautiful, and I'm grateful I had the eyes to see it.

Maybe that's why I like going to JHU. Because it reminds me (although I could use the reminder on less than a weekly basis, mind you) that I'm fallible and imperfect and that life is brief, fleeting and something to be embraced and treasured. I honestly believe, as much of a b*tch as this will make me sound, that I would be a meaner, more selfish, more judgmental person if I hadn't been given this disease. There's something about having your own infirmity that makes you more understanding of infirmities in others, be they physical, emotional or mental. I try to picture what my life would be like without this disease and I can't do it. The truth is, I'd gladly trade my bone marrow for anyone's reading this post, because there is no sugarcoating the major suckage of my health situation. But would I trade the person I've become, the lessons I've learned about kindness and dignity and forgiveness of myself and others, to have this disease go away? Quite simply, No.

Everything that happens in our life, good and bad, makes us the person we are today. You could go back in time and change one or two things, but you'd return to the present as a different person. All of my baggage and history, good and bad, make me who I am; and I don't--for the first time in my life after many years of trying as so many of us do--want to be anyone but the person I am.

I wonder if maybe that is what I saw in that man's face the other day: not traditional physical beauty but an internal comfort and acceptance of all the life experience that his face was displaying; a regal sense of contentment with the canvas God the Artist gave him. And maybe--after all the creams, lotions, lasers, injections, and procedures have done all they can do to give you the illusion of beauty--comfort in your own skin, however that skin looks, is the definition of true beauty.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Britney Sex Tape: Who Gives a Rat's A**?

Okay, can I say something about the whole situation with Britney and Kevin? As if I really care, but you know, when someone mentions "sex" "tape" and "$50 million" to not load it onto the internet, you click on that link just to see what's what. Don't you? Right? You? Or how about you? You don't? Well, it's a good thing you've got me here to do it for you, then, isn't it?!

Here's the recap: Britney's soon-to-be ex and all-the-time moron is allegedly holding a four-hour long sex tape over her head, in an attempt to extort more money out of their impending divorce settlement. Everyone is atwitter at whether this will ruin Britney's career, impact her ability to get custody of her kids, etc etc.

I know I don't represent middle america, but may I offer a few thoughts:
1. Two MARRIED people have the right to do any damn thing they please in the bedroom. Or kitchen. Or garage. If they want to film it, have at it. Why a wife doing the nasty, the tasty or the hasty with her HUSBAND should somehow make her look like a slut, I simply do not know. We spend so much time clucking over pre-marital sex that we should all collectively just say, "well good for them" if they are actually married while doing it (or doing it while married!), on camera or not.

2. I'm interested to meet the judge who would give custody of babies to a man who would publicly humiliate the mother of those babies for money, as if being raucously sexual as a wife is worse than being certifiably morally unredeemable as a husband and human.

3. Britney ought to call his bluff, because Kevin must either know he is packing heat in this video, or he is going to find himself called a small man for very different reasons than a tanking rap CD and an unrelenting penchant for looking and sounding like trash.

And finally:
4. Can we issue a moratorium on people filming their sex acts, regardless of how much I've just said it's okay? Why are you filming it, darlings? If you want to re-experience it, here's a revolutionary idea: just do it again! That's one of the bennies of having that lovely person on the other side of the bed, isn't it? You don't have to fire up the TV to get some action, you just have to do some dishes, help with the kids a little, remember to say something about how pretty she looks, then remember NOT to say, "I'll be right up after SportsCenter."

Presidential Prognostication

It's early days in the 2008 presidential campaign (you think?), but the Haggis is hereby offering a few predictions that will surprise no one:

There will be no President Vilsack.
There will be no President Obama.
There will be no President Rice, Brownback, Kerry, Gingrich or Biden.

There will be no President Clinton (not the one I would love to have again, anyway). Her negatives are as high as her positives in most polls. She, although capable in every way, is perhaps too much of a lightning rod to pull in those independent undecideds every candidate needs to win. She will no doubt get the nomination, but she will not win.

There will be no President Gore. Yeah I said it. No matter what Joe Trippi says, no matter what some people of good faith say. The days are gone in American presidential politics when you can viably and credibly "try again." The race for POTUS is now a one-shot deal, at least for those who earn their party's nomination and lose the general election.

There will be no President Giuliani. It's just not going to happen, folks. Too many pre-9/11 situations that, although forgotten in the hagiographic aftermath of that tragedy, will come roaring back in the primaries. If his newly-created exploratory committee doesn't arrive at those findings, they will prove themselves to be pretty lackluster explorers.

All of which is to say that I am not ready to make a call on President McCain, President Clark, President Richardson or President Whomever. I'm not going to make the final call till all the currently-little-known Governors of Southern states have officially jumped in or stayed out.

Mel Martinez: New Captain of the Sinking Conservative Ship

If there was any doubt in the minds of conservatives that President Bush has not only gone off the reservation but has burned his bus ticket back home, look no further for confirmation than the appointment of Mel Martinez to head the RNC. Wow. I'm a Democrat, which means I live in the world of nonstop moronic political decisions made by my party, and even I've got to say that this is a breathtakingly idiotic choice for the 2008 effort. Keep it up, GOP! These are just the kind of good-old-boy network, non-meritocratic decisions we need to win the White House. Well played, George. Well played.

Nicely outlined reasons for the dismay over at Captain's Quarters:
Captain's Quarters

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Divorce Me Baby, One More Time

Fantastic post exhorting those who support the Defense of Marriage Act to act quickly to prevent the dissolution of Britney Spears' marriage. You know, to preserve the sanctity of marriage. To ensure Britney's kids have a mother and a father.

That's What Kids Are For

Children multiply our joys in so many ways; this notion is the stuff of cliche. What is less discussed, perhaps, are the ways in which they halve our sorrows.

I know when my Dad passed away, taking care of Bambina was, for a few days, a very rote experience. I fed her because she needed to be fed and that was my job. I did the bedtime routine because I didn't want her to feel a loss simply because I was feeling a loss, but not because I felt like doing it. Being present for her was something I did out of obligation and perhaps because it was the only thing forcing me out of bed and into the one-day-after-the-other future without my father. I floated through those first days, checking off tasks but not feeling at all like I was really doing them with my whole heart and mind. Kid fed? Check. Food prepared with usual motherly concern? Not in the least. I look back on those few days as a blur, as if maybe they were an out of body experience, wherein I was watching that person who looked like me, ably--but not perfectly--imitating me as a mother.

I can't recall the moment when I gave myself permission to laugh again, but I do know that it came sooner than I wanted it to only because I had a toddler monkeygirl doing cute things like tickling my ears or picking her nose and yelling, "Booger!!!" When my Dad first died I thought "this would be so much easier if I didn't have to take care of a child right now." Not 4 days later, after hearing her make up a song about her boogers, I realized the opposite: that without her in my life, I'd have to search to find some meaning, some joy, some reason to justify the presence of humor in the world much less in my life. In short, she forced me to laugh again. Forced me to open my eyes to joy and wonder at a time when I really only wanted to feel sadness and loss.

Spending my days with Bambina, rather than preventing me from experiencing my grief, pushed me into experiencing that grief in a positive and life-affirming way. I was lucky to be loved by a lot of people at the time, but I was doubly lucky to be loved by my child who was blissfully unaware that I should be sad. Her presence, her joy, her humor and her need for a present and loving mother kept me solidly in the swirl of the world continuing to spin on its axis, when I know without her I would have retreated from people and joy and friendship in a desire to make the world without my father stop. So too today as I worry about my friend, Bambina is there, forcing me to laugh, forcing me to be present in this moment with her, forcing me to remember that joy must be felt through pain.

As I've said before in these pages, when people congratulate me for "saving" my daughter, all I can say with complete sincerity is "No. She has saved me." Again and again.

For My Friend

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own."
-Benjamin Disraeli

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being."

These two statements describe my friend, who is very sick tonight. From the moment we met 12 short years ago she, quite unawares, helped me to become the woman I am today. I had a massive platonic crush on her cuteness, her humor, her intelligence, her grace and her class. I was a somewhat chubby 21 year old dating her friend's son. I was just a kind of awkward girlfriend who came to family events, and who knows what would become of the relationship, but she treated me like family from that very first day. She asked me questions about myself, made me feel welcome, told me how much I could achieve, inspired me with her cool stories of her New York days. She had every reason in the world to be pleasant but noncommital toward me, but instead she opened her arms wide and embraced me--both the girl I was and the woman I was to become. Simply by being herself, she showed me all that I could be.

I'm writing this now because I cannot sleep for thinking about her, willing my thoughts to be somehow extrasensorily transmitted to her, telling her how much I love her and how grateful I am for all that she has brought to my life in the 12 short years I have been blessed enough to know her. I don't even know how to finish this post, whether to loudly curse a world where such an amazing and beautiful soul and her family are facing this, or whether to quietly let the tears fall, knowing that there are no words that will suffice.

My friend, you are in our thoughts. You are in our prayers. You are loved in the same way you have loved me lo these past 12 years: with arms and heart wide open.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The President Lied. Why Would the WaPo Not Cover It?

Glenn Greenwald very ably discusses the Washington Post's curious alteration of its coverage of the President's news conference where he admitted lying to the press about Donald Rumsfeld. Incredibly well-written:

Getting Into The Act

Where does your sense of humor come from?

I'm asking because I recently said to someone that I love Bambina's sense of humor, that I cannot believe the extent of the development of humor in a 2 1/2 year old. She "gets" jokes, she makes some up herself, she has a physicality to her humor and a nuance as to what she finds funny that makes me laugh so hard. Maybe every 2 year-old has it, but I'm just not sure how they get it. The person responded that she'd get her sense of humor from me, ie, being raised by me will transmit my sense of humor to her, so obviously she and I find the same things to be funny.

But is that really the case? I don't know; I'm asking. My brother, sister and I were all raised in the same house with the same parents and went to the same schools. We could not have more divergent senses of humor if you put out a casting call for Three Divergent Senses of Humor. So did we get our humor from our parents? I definitely have a funny bone more along the lines of my Dad: potty humor, political satire, deflating personal puffery. But did I get it from living with him or was I born with it? I'm stumped.

Anyone have any thoughts on this, either scientific or anecdotal? Help a sister out. In the meantime, we here at Chez Haggis will be repeating ad nauseum the joke of the week that Bambina can't get enough of: "How do sheep get clean? They take a baaaaath!" Cue the wild kiddie laughter while running around the house naked, save some big girl underwear and butterfly wings on her back, yelling "baaaaaath!".

You know, just like her momma.

Veterans Day

Thank you.

To Chuck, Charlie, BB, Ed, Dave, Todd, Marty. To all of you who have served in the past, currently serve today, and will continue to serve beyond your current deployment. Thank you. If we could collectively devote as much attention to your lives as we do to those of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, we wouldn't need a Veteran's Day to remind ourselves of exactly what you put on the line every time you kiss your families goodbye and head in-country to take care of business not of your own making.

It's a sacrifice that ought to be honored by higher pay, better support for your families in your absence, and better support for you upon your return.

Stay safe until we can bring you home.

Lessons From the Election

As the WaPo put it: "after minutes upon minutes of soul-searching" the GOP has started an expected post-election "recriminatathon," to get to the bottom of who is to blame for the stunning losses of Tuesday. I thought I'd add a few items just off the top of my head, about the GOP, the Dems, and the people who love them:

1. (Senator George Allen) If someone asks you if your mom might be Jewish, feel free to respond in any manner other than one that implies the questioner inquired as to whether your mom sucks off homeless men for hits of crack. It's okay to have a Jew in the family, George. Especially around Christmas time because we don't require any gifts and we have no expectations of a perfect Norman Rockwell noel! It's like having all the family with only some of the holiday stress.

2. (John Kerry) If you're not a comedian, don't tell jokes that have an edge. Tell a knock-knock joke that everyone has heard. Don't even approach a topic like war or death with humor if you aren't Richard freakin' Pryor...and even then, save it for your local Laugh Shack Local Celebrity Night for charity, not the campaign trail. I tried to do something I thought would be funny/edgy once with an old friend. Didn't read my audience accurately (ie, he didn't find it at all funny in the least), didn't mean any harm, but completely looked like an a**hole. And of course after the fact once you see how totally not funny your "joke" was, there is NO credible way to say that you really didn't mean any harm, even though you really didn't mean any harm. I don't do sight gags and I don't do practical jokes anymore, but the damage is done. I could cure cancer, but I'm sure to a small number of people I'll always be "that friend of yours who was a total a-hole! How could she have thought that was funny?!!" Go ye and do likewise (ie, own the fact that you are not Jamie Kennedy or Sasha Baron Cohen), Mr. Kerry.

3. If you are the Veterans of Foreign Wars (Illinois), you really ought to support the candidate who had her legs and arm blown off in Iraq (Tammy Duckworth), over her opponent who is not a member of your organization. It looks bad for veterans if a vets organization actively opposes one of their own for congress, especially one who has gone so far as to start a whole foundation dedicated to providing long-term care to injured soldiers, in favor of a person who has never served but who simply supports the Bush administration's approach to Iraq. I'm not saying that service in the military earns you an automatic endorsement, but for heaven's sake, it ought to count for something--especially to a group that brands itself as a voice for veterans. As Bob Kerrey said, they ought to be ashamed.

4. (Rush Limbaugh) If you don't agree with people in power, you should not be shilling for them on your radio show. I cannot believe his November 8th quote has not gotten more press:
The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does. I believe my side is worthy of victory, and I believe it's much easier to reform things that are going wrong on my side from a position of strength. Now I'm liberated from having to constantly come in here every day and try to buck up a bunch of people who don't deserve it, to try to carry the water and make excuses for people who don't deserve it. I did not want to sit here and participate, willingly, in the victory of the libs, in the victory of the Democrat Party by sabotaging my own.
Rush, you are absolutely demonstrating the reason why the Republican party is in the tatters it is: you believe that not actively shilling for someone in your party, whom you don't even like or agree with, is sabotage. Why not just talk about something else? And why not try all that "reform" you mention while the sh*t is hitting the fan? You wait for it all to fall down around you and then you say, "I want to help reform!"? If this President had listened to the American people in the past two years, if he had allowed honest, patriotic debate in the past two years without labeling it treasonous dissent, if he had shown one ounce of interest in hearing something besides, "Yes, your Excellency. It shall be done," his party wouldn't have received the "thumpin" it did on Tuesday. The essence of democracy is that the people are heard by their government, that the PEOPLE hold the power over the government, and as such are entitled to say whatever the hell they want to about it without being told by after-the-fact a**holes like yourself that they are not patriotic Americans. If there was ever a shred of doubt that you are a morally-rudderless human being, Rush, your post-election statement eliminates it. If Republicans were smart, they'd loathe you now as much as we do.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Boater Voter

Many tears were shed at the polling place yesterday by Bambina. She's usually a pretty cool cat when it comes to her lack of tantrums. She is definitely willful, but not nastily or embarrassingly so. She just wants what she wants and if it doesn't happen she dissolves into tears. Big, rolling-down-her-face, gimme-sympathy-you-big-rotten-mommy tears, but generally never kicking or screaming, thank god. Anyway, the drama went a little something like this once we entered the polling station after me getting her all psyched up for "going to vote":

Bambina: Where water?

Me: Water? What water?

B: Water! Water! Where water?! (eyes welling up)

Me: Sweet Girl, I don't know what you mean. Can you show me what you mean? Do you want a drink? We can get a drink in the car as soon as Mommy's done voting.

B: (Tears spilling over) Mama! Water! Boat on water! Where water?! Boat on water!

Me: Boat on wa...? Oh, sweet girl, it's Vote. With a va-va-vee. Not boat with a ba ba bee. Va va vote. There aren't any boats here, just...(oh dear god, help me out here...)...these "I Voted!" stickers! Would you like a sticker!? What a super sticker!!!

B: I Boated sticker! (little excited laugh through a face full of tears)

Crisis averted. Back to smooth sailing.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

CNN is calling Democratic control of the House!!

Sweeeeeet. The evil part of my mind just keeps repeating the words, "subpoena" and "independent counsel." The nice part just keeps repeating the words, "Thank God."

Blogging's Nice and All...

CNN has been cutting to a DC coffeehouse called Tryst where they are holding a "Blog Party." It's a bunch of people sitting around blogging and talking as the returns come in. I don't mean to be a jerk, but can you imagine a less fun evening? Isn't blogging essentially a solitary activity? I'm not saying you can't be social while blogging, but it just seems unfortunate to try to make it seem more social than it is by putting the word "party" after it. Although, to quote Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club when discussing The Geek's dorky extracurricular activities: "Well, it's social. Pathetic and sad...But social."

I Miss My Dad, Part 973

I was about to write a post about how Election Day reminds me of my Dad because he so loved democracy, truth and the exercise of our inalienable right to choose a government, of, by and for the people.

But that would be a lie.

He thought, for the most part, that politicians and preachers were all crooks. His favorite saying was, "He who says man cannot live by bread alone, usually has the most bread." And politicians and preachers are the biggest proponents of the "can't live by bread alone" declaration.

What I miss about him on Election Day is his readiness to debate anything at anytime just for kicks. If he knew I felt very strongly about something he'd find a way to make me debate it to the point of my irritation and his laughing entertainment. He liked to, as he said, "wind me up and watch me spin."

I also know how hard he and my Mom worked to move us here to the States, to make a life for us, to give us an education and a chance at a better life than they had. Every time I vote I feel blessed to be American, and I feel indebted to my parents for their sacrifices that made me American.

So as I pull the lever/poke the chad/press the green light/whatever Diebold asks me to do today, I'm gonna be thinking of JP, who'd find a way to pretend he loved George Bush just to p*ss me off enough to make him laugh at my earnest irritation.

Good times, good times.

Signs I'm Getting Old and So Is Our Republic

My bladder is awake before I am.

I woke up at 4am-ish to pee. Have not been able to sleep since. So here I am, pondering the election, praying that somehow the voters manage, in their irritation with Republicans, to forgive the fact that we Dems have nothing remotely resembling a viable and enthusiasm-generating platform of our own, short of "we're not Bush." Although these days I have to be honest with you, I kind of think that is a pretty respectable thing to be able to say.

This president has changed the meaning of Conservatism to the point that a true conservative (not evangelical, mind you, but a true conservative in the pure sense of the word) would be physically sick at the idea of George Bush's continued "mandate" to serve. This president has changed the meaning of America to the point that anyone who cares to see can tell that we are dangerously close to never getting it back. When I was a kid in Scotland, America was perceived as this amazing place where people were kind of rude but essentially decent; where you could seek your fortune among the strivers of the world; where your kids could have the chance to grow up and be anything they wanted to be; where Americans were The Good Guys. I always grew up with an unspoken feeling in the back of my brain that America was where The Good Guys lived; you didn't always like them or agree with them, but you always knew they didn't mean any harm.

Yeah, it's only a childhood subconscious musing, but it was real--both to me and to all the kids I knew-and it affected our worldviews to this day. When my family immigrated here, any statements of caution or concern involved guns and crime, not that we were moving to a bad, evil place governed by a bad, evil man. And whether you think it's a valid thought for others to have or not, sadly this is now America's chief export, which WILL have consequences for the future.

Thomas Jefferson said, "Whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, the people, if well informed, may be relied on to set them to rights." We've been informed. The signs are there to see. This election IS about George Bush even though he is not on the ballot. No matter how much we want to separate our specific local/state/federal candidates from this administration, we all know that it's no longer enough to say, "but I like MY guy." That guy will be voting as a member of a party; that guy's presence will determine which party holds the Congressional leadership, which, if GOP, will carry out the wishes of this President. President Bush does not see nuance. He is a man of absolutes: good vs. evil, for me or against me. He considered his squeaker of a re-election to be a "mandate" for governing. We can't take any chances that he gets emboldened by these midterms.

So go vote. Vote for what America used to be, for what "American" used to mean, for what it can mean again. We are the good guys. It's time to tell this Stay The Course/Divide and Conquer president that he has "attracted our notice" and we plan to "set him to rights."

And now, I'm off to pee. Again.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ready For Your Closeup?

This is kind of a neat project. Check it out and maybe submit a photo of your polling place. What are the odds that 70% of them will be photos of schools built in the late 1960's? Everywhere I've lived (and that's MANY locations), my polling place has been a school that could have been on The Brady Bunch...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pre-electoral nausea

This is long but worth the read. The "vomit" analogy is right on. From Andrew Sullivan in The Sunday Times (London):

What’s at stake is saving the US from the incompetent, reckless fanatics now in control

It is difficult to look into the future when you are going through what America is going through. All I can say about the atmosphere in the United States right now is that it feels as if the country is about to vomit. The nausea is there; the vote is imminent; and the purge necessary. And yet it hasn’t happened yet. Americans are still staring at the porcelain. And those who desperately want a change — as I do — have to wait. But there are some things that this election has already decided. Several national careers have ended; and the presidential race for 2008 — the most open in decades — has been winnowed.

Not so long ago the leading candidate to replace George W Bush for the Republicans was the Virginia senator George Allen. Allen is in a tight race for re-election. He may still win. But even if he does, his presidential hopes are over. In an incident captured on video, he called a dark-skinned supporter of his opponent “macaca”. It means “monkey”. When told he had a Jewish grandmother recently, he complained that people were casting aspersions in his direction. He is no longer a serious candidate.

The same, I fear, may be happening to the Republican senator John McCain. McCain’s selling point for years has been that he is a man of integrity — hence his appearance at the Tory party conference in Bournemouth last month. He wasn’t broken under torture by the Viet Cong; he fought the religious far right; and he voted against much of the insane Republican spending spree at the federal level. Yes, he loyally backed Bush in 2004. But those of us who differed felt that he was just doing what he had to.

But then, this autumn, McCain caved in on the question of allowing the CIA to torture military detainees. He surrendered habeas corpus to Donald Rumsfeld, the incompetent maniac running the Pentagon. He went to Jerry Falwell’s university to make nice with the religious right. He is even now appearing in advertisements to amend the constitution of his home state, Arizona, to strip gay couples of legal rights. In short, he’s become a compromiser on issues that cannot be compromised on — torture, honesty, honour — and his brand of integrity has been badly damaged.

The big winner for the Republicans is also clear: Mitt Romney. Romney is the Republican governor of Massachusetts and has been able to stay largely out of the fray of this dirty, ugly campaign. He has quietly been building a national campaign based on the religious right. He is vociferously against embryonic stem cell research, abortion and acceptance of gay couples as equal citizens. Right now, the Republican race is between him, McCain and Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York.

For the Democrats, Hillary is still there: sane on the war, smart on the issues, carefully honing a centrist message. She has lots of money — but not much enthusiasm. Some say she may not even run, preferring to become Senate majority leader. And she sees, as we all do, another light on the horizon.

That light is Barack Obama, a 45-year-old first-term senator from Illinois. He is the son of Barack Hussein Obama of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas. They met while his father was in Hawaii on a foreign student visa. In the middle of this election season, Obama’s manifesto, The Audacity of Hope, has been No1 for weeks. Its title tells you why. He was just on the cover of Time magazine. And he just pointedly said he has “thought about the possibility” of running for president in 2008.

Earlier this year he gave a superb speech on how faith and politics can intersect while keeping their distance — the central issue in American politics. He’s a centrist and a brilliant speaker who electrified the Democratic convention in 2004. If America is yearning for a cultural and racial healer, Obama looks like one.

Click on Comments to read the rest--

Rescue Me From Denis Leary's Ass

I am loving watching Rescue Me via netflix. It's a show, on FX I believe, about an NYC fire house and all the crazy characters therein.

This show rocks. I watch The Shield for the unbelievably gripping storylines. I watch Rescue Me for the unbelievably funny and smart dialogue. Every single show has at least three totally on-point, funny, insightful lines that you wish you had said at some point in your life.

My only complaint about the show? That, despite the presence of 3 completely hot young strapping FDNY men, ALL of the sex scenes involve Denis Leary. I mean, I don't begrudge the producer, co-creator and co-writer of this show his moment in the sun as far as bangin' the ladies goes, but do I need to watch it? I swear to god, three times tonight I was like, "Oh dear god, make the bad man stop!" as the camera focused lengthily (har har) on Denis Leary's fluorescent white ass and legs. Now, I am second to no one in the fluorescent whiteness sweepstakes, but I don't go around filming it in full-on, on-the-case, gettin'-it-on 2.5 minute sequences when Eva Longoria is also available on the show, do I? Hell no.

So. I say this to Denis Leary: Your show is awesome. You are funny, even though I always thought you weren't and I really couldn't stand you back in high school when all of my meathead boyfriends loved your Angry Irish Masshole shtick. But you are indeed funny on this show, and it is well-written.

So how about not pulling a Dennis Franz every freakin' week, huh? How about you just go home and count your money and not make me watch your butt. Please? No offense, Denis, but seeing you naked is a wicked pissah.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Grand Caucasian Doll Experiment

Okay. Go to your local toy store, Target, Walmart, whatever. Go to the doll aisle. Attempt to find at least two different dolls that are NOT caucasian.

How did it go?

I spent hours trying to find a non-white doll for the Bambina. ANY doll at all, didn't even have to have any special wetting/bottle/feeding/crying features. Just a single, solitary non-white d*mn doll so she can have at least one in her collection that actually has her skin color. Took me hours, to the point that she was so over the whole "let's go looking at toys!" thing. So I bought the one African-American doll at our local Target and went home.

I'm certain Bambina is not at the stage of development where she can understand race or ethnicity. But there is nothing wrong--and everything right--with making sure she has a variety of dolls to play with. My goal was to make sure that she never gets the unspoken message that white is the only color dolls can be, that they don't bother making dolls who might look like her. Whoops! Apparently, that is precisely what the message is: we don't make dolls with olive skin and almond eyes who just happen to reside on the same shelf as all the porcelain blond ones. Well, I for one am not havin' it. That Target had three full shelves of dolls, one of which was Black and none of which was Asian. That is totally f'ing unacceptable. I don't need them to institute some kind of quota system for doll ethnicity, but is it too much to ask that more than .05% of their doll selection not be white and blond?

So let's see if we can jump that hurdle. The next one will be: can you make Asian dolls that are not also wearing traditional Asian clothing? Like, can a doll who looks Asian just be wearing the same d*mn dress the white doll is wearing? Why does the Asian doll have to be wearing the kimono? Why are the Latina dolls in that Guatemalan burlap getup all the time? I await the day when a doll that is Asian is just that: a pretend baby who happens to look Asian, not some "Baby visitor from Tokyo or Beijing."

In the short-term, I'm headed online to get her this:

But in the long-term, stores need to lose the monopoly of Aryan dolls. Not only is it wrong, it's very bad business (the online doll I mentioned is totally sold out).

There's Gay and then there's Gay Sex

The previous post discussed Ted Haggard's defense that he did not have "gay sex." What I didn't cover in that post was my issue with the judgmental tone of the term "gay sex." There was a line in the show Friends where Chandler said of Chinese food: "Yeah, but in China, it's just called 'food.'" Why does the term "gay sex" exist when "hetero sex" doesn't? If two gay people are having sex, they are having sex. Not gay sex. And why does every discussion about gay people have to be about "gay sex"? I know plenty of heteros who ain't gettin' any sex of any kind. Are they straight because they're having hetero sex? It would appear not. So why the assumption that gay people are all about the gay sex any more than heteros are all about the hetero sex?

In a wonderful, life-affirming counterpoint to the seedy aura surrounding Ted Haggard's situation (accusations of "gay sex"), my young girl crush, Doogie Howser, has announced that he is gay in perhaps the nicest way I've ever heard it described:

Neil Patrick Harris is gay and wants to quell any rumors to the contrary. "(I) am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest," Harris tells People magazine's Web site. The 33-year-old actor said he was motivated to disclose his sexuality because of recent "speculation and interest in my private life and relationships." Harris stars on the CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother." He started on TV as a teen, playing the namesake doctor on the series "Doogie Howser, M.D."

Now if only Ted Haggard had been in a situation where he felt comfortable and supported enough to be himself, to live in the skin that God (yes, God) intended him to, to not be considered sinful or evil for simply being who he is, he more than likely would not have found himself in hotel rooms with a prostitute, allegedly taking meth. When you tell someone that who they are is evil and depraved in no less than God's eyes, they not only have to hide it, they have to subvert it. That's how they end up working to prove their enmity for gay people, undermining human rights for gay people, and having secret "gay sex" rather than just being " life to the fullest" people who happen to be gay.

Friday, November 03, 2006

But I'm Not Gay!

In my long, ridiculous history of relationships with men I can absolutely say the following with total conviction: A man, when confronted with evidence items A, B and C, (with C being the worst possible thing he could have done), will always cop to "A and B, but not C. I swear I didn't do C. I would NEVER do that to you." Then, hours, days, weeks pass and lo and behold--it turns out he did C so many times he can't remember when he started.

Or maybe my girlfriends and I just picked the wrong guys. All of us. And our sisters too. And their friends too. Guys who talk a lot about being faithful, who seem to walk the walk, who take a dim view of their female friends' boyfriends who cheat, but who--in the final analysis--see their own motivations and justifications for cheating as somehow different, understandable, and ultimately exculpatory. They don't see themselves in the other men they disparage because their reasons were "pure" or they "didn't mean for it to happen," or "I'm sorry you are hurt but I can't help how I feel." Because their actions were "not intentionally hurtful" (although one could ask how f'ing another woman while dating someone else could be considered anything but...), they don't group themselves with "those men" who cheat or who treat women poorly. If I don't mean or intend to hurt you, then I'm not like those people.

I'm not man-bashing, because I know women can get up to all kinds of "C" as well. But in the case of Ted Haggard and his New Life megachurch, I'm simply offering the thought that, if you are perhaps a leading evangelical preacher who has been accused of drugs, massages and gay sex (with a prostitute drug dealer who gave you a massage in a hotel), and you cop to the drugs and massages, but absolutely not the gay sex, what do you think is the likelihood that you had the gay sex?

I'm just asking, because I know he was a leading opponent of gay marriage and was leader of a megachurch that believed homosexuality to be a sin. And nothing in my mind says, "I did (or think about) 'C' A LOT" and/or "but I'm not gay, so what I did was not as bad or akin to those people who march in parades and want to get married," more than a rabidly anti-gay evangelical with a drug habit and a gay prostitute masseur.

On a serious note, I'd actually feel some modicum of sympathy for Haggard if he had been outed as a minding-his-own-business pastor, father of 5 kids who had been on the DownLow. But because he was so rabidly anti-gay, anti-gay marriage, and part of a church that considers gay people sinners from the word go, I think he ought to reap the whirlwind he has sown.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Raise Your Hand if You Want the Terrorists to Win

Gimme an f'ing break.

I gave up writing political posts for a few weeks because all I could muster from all of the ridiculous accusations from the GOP was "gimme an f'ing break." Not the most astute political insight ever offered online, and not quite what I wanted to put my name under. But the following scripts provided over at thinkprogress show the two-facedness of this White House in the ugliness that has come to characterize this election.

How can the President possibly say he is not lowering the "tone" in Washington when he is saying that Democrats want the terrorists to win? Does any person of good faith actually, truly believe that Democrats want the terrorists to win? Why is no one asking him this question? Bush's contention (that if you don't want to fight this war the way he has laid it out, then you must not want to beat terrorism) is the most asinine thing I've ever heard, second only to those people who say that pro-choice people are pro-abortion. Nobody in their right mind is pro-abortion. Nobody I know--even my raving lefty womyn friends with NARAL bumperstickers--is pro-abortion. But because we don't agree with the Right's determination of how to stop unwanted pregnancies and how to reduce the number of abortions, we must all therefore be in favor of killing embryos. Like I said, gimme an f'ing break.

And so it goes with Iraq specifically and our War on Terror generally: if you disagree with this President's handling of the war, with his determination of how the war should play out, with his decisions about exit strategies and troop support, then clearly you must be pro-terrorist, or at the very least, apathetic about American freedom and American lives.

I'm tempted to finish with another "gimme" statement, but perhaps this is a more mom-approved statement from a great Republican:
May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
--Dwight D. Eisenhower

If You Don't Study and Do Well in School...

I remember my brother and sister and I engaging in a game called, "Thbbbpp! Who Farted?!" The goal was to make the other person say, "I ate it." So when no one was expecting it, you'd blurt out, "Thbbppp {that's my written fart/raspberry noise} Who Farted?! I One it!" Then the unlucky second person would have no choice but to say, I Two it," followed by the other one who'd have to say, "I Three it." This continued until the poor shmo after "I Seven it" had to say, "I Eight it," to huge peals of laughter and loud derision. And no amount of pleading, "I didn't eat it! I didn't!" allowed you to renege on your statement. This was grade school justice, and you had eaten the fart, fart eater. After all, you said so, didn't you?

All of which brings me to my point: Thank god John Kerry has abandoned his Comedy Tour of Critical Congressional Races.

Obviously we all know what he meant. He used the term "intellectually lazy" immediately leading up to his big punchline. WE ALL KNOW who has been called "intellectually lazy" for, oh, about 7 years now, and it ain't the rank and file members of the U.S. armed services. It ain't the generals, and it ain't even Rumsfeld. WE ALL KNOW the person who, if you google "intellectually lazy" will probably have a few entries dedicated to him, or at least have several different people accusing him of that verbatim.

So let's stop with the refusal to acknowledge that he wasn't discussing the troops. That is not only intellectually lazy, it's intellectually dishonest. And maybe as a charitable act, we'll all throw you a bone and say that maybe Cheney's remark about "dunking" prisoners wasn't referring to waterboarding.

Or should we as an electorate allow the Rove Machine to reduce our public discourse to The Fart Eating Game? If we do, then we as citizens of a democracy, Republican AND Democrat, will indeed have eaten it.

Try To Understand

I'll write tomorrow, I swear. I was up really early today for a really really really early JHU appointment. My car ride there is about 40 minutes long door to door, which is no big deal, especially because I get to listen to music of my own choosing or NPR, without having to hear Wheels on the Bus or the ABC Song the entire ride. I realized the other day when someone asked me if I'd heard something on NPR and I replied, "I don't even know what station public radio is on anymore. I haven't listened to NPR since coming home from China almost two years ago." And damn if I wasn't speaking the truth. I, formerly politically-active, exceedingly-engaged, on-top-of-current-events woman, could not--on penalty of death--conjure up in my mind where to even find NPR or any such channel on the radio. THAT is how long it's been since I had control of my own automotive sound system. Two years. So now when people say, "wow, that's a bit of drive, isn't it? All the way to Baltimore?" I just smile. Because it's 40 minutes in a car; yes. But it's also 40 minutes of actually hearing BBC's World Have Your Say or, god forbid, just some music that doesn't use a piccolo or xylophone.

Unless, of course, like me today, you happen to hear what has to be THE WORST ALL-TIME song ever written and performed. It was on the "classic rock" station, and all I can say is that if "classic" means "laughably horribly didn't-age-well parody of a bad Spinal Tap performance," then yes, this was classic rock. I speak, of course, of Heart's "Magic Man." What in THE hell was going on when this song was written, recorded and played? I'd never heard it before today and ohmygod it is sooo bad I completely started laughing when I realized it wasn't, as I mentioned before, some kind of Spinal Tap parody. I remember Heart from "These Dreams" back in the '80's when all the guys in my high school were hot for the blond one--and before the brunette apparently gained weight. Whatever. Had I known in 1988 that those women were responsible for "Magic Man" I'd have played it for those high school boys and shut that "she's so hot" sh*t down, post haste. Because you cannot find a woman hot who can sing the following lyrics with a straight face:

"Come on home, girl" he said with a smile
"I cast my spell of love on you, a woman from a child!
But try to understand, try to understand, oh ... oh ...
Try to understand
Try try try to understand
He's a magic man!" oh yeah
Oh, you've got the magic hands

Download the song if you haven't heard it because there is no substitute for hearing the word "try" sung no fewer than six times in one stanza, which ought to qualify them for "most space-filling" in a song as well as "couldn't think of a word that rhymed with 'attempt' or 'make an effort.'" I almost wrote that it's "deliciously bad," but it's not, I'm afraid. Tom Jones' version of Prince's "Kiss" is deliciously bad. Magic Man is just, as a reviewer said about Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich" album: "Two words: Shit Sandwich."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Apocalypse Now

This photo does not do it justice, but the sky this past weekend was so weird that I just had to get out my camera. It was bright, clear blue right next to fluffy white clouds right next to dark, almost purple ominous tornado-on-the-way clouds. Freak out, yo.

Thanks, Red.

Red Auerbach was buried in a simple graveside ceremony Tuesday, with Hall of Famers Bill Russell and John Thompson and commissioner David Stern among those paying last respects. About 150 family, friends and special guests attended the private burial for the NBA great at the King David Memorial Gardens in suburban Washington. Mourners chanted Psalm 23 and stood in silence as Auerbach's casket was lowered, then chanted the Mourner's Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. Stern was among those who took part in the tradition of shoveling dirt onto the grave.

Stern said the service was appropriate for a man who was direct and often blunt, without much regard for fluff or ceremony. "The utter simplicity was fitting for Red," Stern said. "Even the simplicity was more than what he would have wanted." Auerbach, who won nine NBA titles with the Celtics as a coach and seven more as a general manager, died after a heart attack near his Washington home Saturday at age 89. "He had a great run," Stern said. "He fooled us into thinking it would never end."