Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good Answer! Good Answer!

Remember that show Family Feud wherein women would be kissed by Richard Dawson while attempting to guess how what the "survey says" are the top ten favorite colors of Americans? Do you also remember those times when an unfortunate family member would give a ludicrously, clearly-not-on-the-board answer and the rest of the family would start to clap and say faux-cheerily, "Good answer! Good answer!"? If you saw the "good answer" reaction, you knew the family was going to get the big X buzzer. Every time.

So here's the thing on Sarah Palin. I just read the WSJ editorial saying what a great pick she is.

Now before I get to that, let me say that Chez Haggis has been going back and forth on renewing our WSJ subscription over the past few months because of the former solid newspaper's move into Fox News territory (and you thought Murdoch buying the paper wouldn't change it!). Just compare their Op-Ed page from last year to the one from the past few months. More faux opinion, more GOP talking points. Love it or hate it, the WSJ always offered its own perspective on things, a perspective I found important to read. Obviously it has been of a conservative bent, from an individualistic angle. Now it seems to have veered off into full GOP-cheerleading/Dem bashing mode and I'm just not sure I want to send them my money anymore. Karl Rove now writes for them while advising Mccain on the side.

So back to the editorial. I mean, really. Imagine that any Democratic candidate had selected Sarah Palin for VP. Now imagine the WSJ saying this:

"Sarah Palin's reform resume would be remarkable in any political career. She entered politics at 28, winning a seat on the Wasilla city council as an opponent of tax increases. After she defeated Wasilla's three-term incumbent mayor four years later, she swept the mayor's cronies out of the bureaucracy." This is the WSJ highlighting a small town mayor's accomplishments in its editorial on her selection to be the US VP. But ask yourself--would the word "remarkable" have been used if the shoe was on the other party? I'd bet the cost of a 10 year WSJ subscription that it would not.

The best--and most laughable--part of the editorial said this: "Don't expect this remarkable personal Palin narrative to get an Obama-like break from the national media." Hellooo? I believe I'm currently reading a piece in the "national media" that does just that!

Even Fred Barnes said that Palin brings "desperately needed diversity" to the Republican ticket. But hasn't the mantra of Republicans been to avoid identity politics? To eschew "diversity" in favor of the market rewarding all who are qualified? When have you ever read of Freddy Beetle Barnes extolling the virtues of diversity?! It's just kind of equal parts funny and sad to see the GOP twist themselves --and their principles-- in knots to make the Palin pick look like a home run simply because they can't bring themselves to say that the very first key decision of a putative McCain presidency has been a complete disaster, from all staffing, procedural and substantive perspectives.

All I'm saying is that you can decide you're going to vote for McCain anyway. But don't pretend that Sarah Palin was the best, most qualified, most ready-on-day-one selection by a man who has made that very issue the primary focus of his campaign to date. You can say McCain's your choice, but you can't say that out of all possible VP choices Sarah Palin would have been yours. Because that is an instant loss of credibility--especially for the Wall Street Journal.

You know what? That editorial helped me decide on the subscription re-up issue. I think I'll keep my hard-earned money and maybe use it to buy my 7th house...

Friday, August 29, 2008

...And Now For Something Completely Different...

Michael Palin for VP!! YEAH! What an inspired pick!

Oh. *Sarah* Palin? Not the Monty Python man? Oh. Okay. That's still, you know, inspiring and whatnot.

I did hear from mudflats that she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska:
And she's been Governor for 20 months.

It's a ludicrous choice, materially and politically, and here's why:

Does this mean that McCain has decided that experience does NOT count? Because, let's be a bit indelicate here: John McCain is 72 years old. John McCain has suffered several bouts of malignant melanoma. John McCain, if he is successful, will be the oldest president to take office in American history. He himself acknowledged in the recent past that his pick for VP would be "of enhanced importance" due to his age. So the very real possibility that Sarah Palin could assume the office of the presidency means that McCain feels she has the background to serve on Day One. Right? Which means that his primary argument--he's untested, inexperienced--against Barack Obama is now unusable. Yeah yeah, "but Obama's the top of the ticket and Palin is the bottom!" See paragraph above wherein John McCain HIMSELF acknowledges that his VP pick vis a vis his age if "of enhanced importance." His words, not mine.

It's politically foolish to give up his experience argument, because I cannot believe that McCain really really wants to spend the next couple of months debating whether being mayor of a town of 8,500 people is more "executive experience" than a Senator from Illinois. I love Barry O, but I can see where people who value "experience" as a primary factor in their selection for POTUS would have questions about his candidacy. By selecting Sarah Palin, McCain thinks he's cut off the Obama camp's ability to call her out for being inexperienced. But what he's done in reality is cut off his own best political argument for the win. As conservative thinker Ramesh Ponnuru says, "Conservatives are pointing out that it is tricky for the Obama campaign to raise the issue of her inexperience given his own, and note that the presidency matters more than the vice-presidency. But that gets things backward. To the extent that experience, qualifications, and national-security arguments are taken off the table, Obama wins."

But wait! They haven't taken national security off the table. A McCain spokesman said, “As the head of Alaska’s National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Gov. Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.” Um. ALL governors are the head of their state's national guard. The question is: does the governor get involved in military strategy of the kind that would make her de facto role as "commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard" something you'd list under "national security experience?" I'm guessing not, and I'm saying that this feels a little bit like resume padding.

I recognize that she fires up the evangelical base due to her NRA membership, anti-choice beliefs (even in the case of rape), and her promotion of creationism in public schools. She's precisely what he needs to pull in the religious wing of the party. What I find completely insulting and sad is her use of the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" meme to try to attract former Hillary Clinton supporters. Hear me now and believe me later: anyone who votes for McCain/Palin and says she was a former HRC supporter is delusional. Because NO ONE who truly supported and believed in HRC's policies and positions could ever find their way to supporting a ticket containing Sarah Palin. It just beggars belief.

What gets me completely incandescent is the notion that I'd vote for someone whose values are diametrically opposed to all I hold dear simply because she has a vagina. I mean, really! I didn't vote for HRC (a woman Sarah Palin called "a whiner") even though it would have been great to have a female president, because I didn't believe she was right for the job. This selection is a rather cynical one in that regard, that somehow women should vote for them because the VP pick is a woman. I'd rather live through 75 years of male presidents than one term of a woman who would force a rape victim to bear a child and who thinks my kid should learn Genesis in her science class. As proud as I am to be what The Daily Show's Samantha Bee called "a Vagina-American," I vote on issues, not on genitalia.

At the same time, this pick does pose some challenges for the Dems. How to go after her record without being seen to bully a woman (see Clinton vs. Lazio for background). How to work around the fact that she's considered a Washington outsider while still painting McCain as more of the same. It's a challenge--and a real one. But there are also opportunities that will become clearer as her selection sinks in, she makes more statements, and conservatives have a chance to really consider what this pick means for the party, for good or for bad. I'd tell the Dems to hold their fire till after the GOP convention and work like hell in the meantime to research her background and develop a solid strategy for beating McCain at his own cynical game. It's too easy to make Quayle comparisons, but I will just say that anyone who discounts the role of the VP as a mere state funeral attendee ought to remember Lyndon Johnson. Harry Truman. Teddy Roosevelt. It matters. It really matters.

Which is the crux of the issue as I see it: no one knows who the hell this person is. The other candidates have been visible for 18 months. We've had 18 months to see how they conduct their campaigns, how they have grown/regressed, how they have handled tough questions. Sarah Palin, if McCain is elected, will be one minute from the Presidency after just 2 months of public scrutiny and 1 debate. That, to me, is more than a little bit disturbing. It's not mavericky. It's hubris.

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Ah yes. Camp Mama is coming to a close. Bambina will start her last year of preschool next week, and I now look back on what I've learned this summer at camp.

Lesson One
I've learned that my kid is shy in large groups. Actually, I knew that. What I've learned is that shyness is simply a feature of my child's personhood, much like her eye color or height. It's neither positive nor negative, and it doesn't reflect on me, on her, or on anything. It just is.

It all came to head at a playdate with about 7 of her classmates from school. These are all kids she has known for a year and adores. All I can say is that I must have grown a velcro leg for 2 hours because my kid would not participate no matter what. I was so--I'm going to admit it--angry at her. I was saying to her, "Sweet girl. These are your friends. Go play with them. Why are you so afraid to go play?" I just could not figure out how my child was confidently laughing and playing with one of these kids at my house the day before--and today that same confident and fun-loving kid in small groups is completely unable to even approach a single friend in a larger group. I was so frustrated with her, like, I've seen you charm, boss, play, laugh, share. I know you have these social skills in spades. So why can't you have them with a few extra kids present?! Why do those skills not translate? Like, if she just didn't have them I'd almost understand more. But to see her have these tremendous social skills in one setting and to be so thoroughly defeated in another just breaks my heart--and, in all honesty, annoyed me.

We stayed even though she wanted to leave because I figured the precisely worst thing to do was to act like her fears were my fears too. I also tried to talk to her about being mean and rude, about how when someone invites you to their house and you show up and don't even talk to them, that it hurts their feelings. I might as well have been Charlie Brown's teacher: "wah wah wah wah. wah wah wah." It so got to me (or maybe more accurately, my annoyance at her got to me) so much that I was off-balance the rest of the day. I remember being just like Bambina, hiding behind my mom's legs and having serious terror when adults tried to get me to interact with them. I remember this all so well and yet now that I've grown into an extrovert, I somehow can't connect with my child who is essentially a carbon copy of me at the same age. The whole situation felt like an Epic Maternal Fail. Like, perhaps the biggest fail since I put her in daycare after 4 months home and it was such an error of disastrous proportions for her that I'll never quite forgive myself for having done it (even though I pulled her out after just 6 weeks). Those instances where you realize you have failed this child in this very real way, not because you did something bad or wrong but because you did something that, while not universally erroneous, was not right for THIS CHILD--and you as THIS CHILD'S mother failed to anticipate it, failed to know your kid well enough to have predicted it.

Well, In reading about shy children I learned the following:
1. Like I said above, shyness is not a venereal disease or a character flaw, and shouldn't be treated as such.
2. Even if you don't understand, you still have to show empathy to your child who at 4 has no idea why she's shy. She just is who she is and can't help it.
3. That my obligation is not to "make" her talk to or go play with people when she can't do it. It's to give her the preparation and tools (by role playing before seeing people or attending events), the space (by specifically NOT forcing her to interact when she is scared to, or arriving early to give her warm up time), and the first glimmers of understanding of social skills (people will think you don't like them if you don't acknowledge them, so you do have to at least wave hello even if you don't want to speak) that will eventually result in her being able to function in large groups. She may never like them, but she'll be able to work with them---as long as she doesn't feel like there is something wrong with her for not liking them.

Lesson Two

You can always find Mac and Cheese.

We were in Boston, doing the resident tourist thing. We did the Shaaahhks exhibit at the aquarium where Bambina took after her Auntie Carol in demonstrating what happens when she gets too hungry and the blood sugars drop. ;) So we mainlined some cheesy crackers and high-tailed it to Faneuil Hall (embracing our inner tourist loser) where Bambina insisted that she had to have mac and cheese. BBDD and I were trying to gently wrap her mind around the fact that food stalls in a market, even a touristy high-end one, do not generally serve mac and cheese to-go. And then. The BBDD was saying, "Sweet Girl, I'm thinking there is nowhere in here that we'll be able to get mac and cheese..." when I looked ahead and yelled, "...except for the stall called "MMMacAndCheese!"
Yep. It's a mac and cheese store. Heavy on the cheese. Made to order. Bambina ate it like it was ice cream. So don't tell me you can't get no stinkin' mac and cheese. You can ALWAYS get mac and cheese. You just have to want it bad enough to endure Quincy Market.

Lesson Three
Chinese is not so hard to learn if you only need your numbers and colors.

We start Chinese school in a couple of weeks, but we've been doing Chinese lessons in some form at home for 3 years now. The biggest help has been a series of easy reader kids' books called Mandy and Pandy by Chris Lin. They come with a CD so you can hear a native speaker read the story in English, English and Chinese, then just Chinese. And they even have songs, one of which has been in heavy rotation for weeks:
Yi ge, liang ge, san ge xiao peng you, si ge, wu ge, liu ge xiao peng you... (one, two three little friends, four, five six little friends...). I am so happy to be learning this language, and so happy that my daughter is learning--and embracing so eagerly--this language. I believe so strongly that her knowledge of Chinese will be an important aspect of her emotional development, beyond all the usual educational stuff. Even as I'm learning to speak and write it, I'm learning about culture and history and social mores (thank you!). It's the hardest and most rewarding thing I think I've ever done, and it is something I will never ever regret making the time to do. We bought those little fridge magnets that make sentences and phrases, and I almost cried when Bambina looked at one--the Chinese characters no less, not the English letters saying Zhong guo--and said, "this says 'China,'" and damn if she wasn't right. She's four and she's already way ahead of me. But isn't that what every parent hopes for anyway? I just didn't think it would happen so soon. ;)

Lesson Four

Sometimes even a bad situation can seem better with a little attitude adjustment.

It's not secret that I've had some troubles with GVHD since the transplant. It's also no secret (much to your chagrin, gentle readers) that I've had major issues with the side effects of the drugs that treat said GVHD. To wit, and I'll try to be delicate, the meds create a certain urgency in one's need for a restroom. And I mean a personal, dedicated restroom. So this past week I asked my doc if we could try to once again taper the offending drug, rather than the prednisone, just so I could perhaps sleep through the night without waking up at 2am to sprint to the loo--or having to drive like hell home from an evening out so I can not lose my last shred of dignity--or having to tell friends when I visit that I can't eat anything they're serving, might need to be antisocial at times for blocks of time, and--oh whatever, you get it. It's embarrassing, annoying and restrictive, and I've been really bummed about it and just so over it for a while now.

Well. I had to email my lovely doctor last night the following: "Well, that was a nice experiment. But a total disaster. Can I please go back up to my old dose?" My GVHD came roaring back in--I kid you not--the space of 5 reduced doses. That's 2 days. Two days and I was all the way back to March, in constant stomach and gut pain, unable to eat, and just scared as hell that these past 4 months' gains had just been erased and that I'll never get off these immunosuppressives.

You cannot believe how much I love my shitty old drug now. For real. Because as bad as it is to have to wake up at night to crap, and run home from a date to crap, and to constantly avoid social situations where I might have to eat--or crap, it's all waaay the hell better than having GVHD which damn near immobilized me. Two days of GVH hell and I was a sucker for cellcept. I was ready to write a freakin' testimonial about how lucky I am that I get to take this fantastic skin cancer-causing, diarrhea-producing insanely powerful and dangerous pharmaceutical. GVH will do that to you I guess.

So, attitude adjustment firmly in hand, I go forth into the fall. Secure in the knowledge that shy is okay, mac and cheese is the god-given right of every American, that you can achieve better(?) living through chemicals, and that no matter how bad it all gets, at least I can say it in Chinese: "I can't come to your house at 5pm because I might have a bout of la duzi." (La doodzeh)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


All week I've been wondering when someone at this convention was going to call out John McCain on his conduct of the campaign, on his proposed policies, on his relationship with the Bush machine. I kept wondering who was going to do it since of course the nominee himself generally doesn't do it himself.

But since McCain has made it personal with Obama, Obama answered. He gave specific policy proposals. He frontally engaged McCain point by point: the "celebrity" thing, the experience thing, the national security thing, the patriotism thing, the elitism thing. He essentially said to McCain: Bring It On.

And make no mistake: he needed to do it. Everyone was wondering if this guy could throw a punch, if he could take McCain on the central issues of McCain's campaign, if he was going to delegate this stuff to Joe Biden, if he was tough enough.

I'm going to sit on this overnight and write more in the morning. But right now it feels like Obama delivered precisely what he needed to, answering all the charges leveled at him to date, and showing that he knows what's going to come next week from the Twin Cities.

I can't wait for the debates.

And PS--Thank you, Obama, for finally having a rabbi deliver the invocation at tonight's event. Might I add--the first Jewish clergyperson in history to do so at either party's convention since conventions began. That's in almost 100 years, y'all. No rabbis in almost 100 years. All those conventions. All those invocations. All those benedictions. Not one little bit of room for one rebbe in one hundred years? Until tonight. It might not mean much to you, but it sure as hell means a lot to me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hypocrisy on Display

This is getting ridiculous.

The GOP and the McCain campaign are making great hay out of the fact that Obama's stage at Invesco Field has "greek temple" columns. Um, I gently offer the following photo of George W. Bush accepting the nomination of his party in New York in 2004:

Note the columns. Was the GOP invoking the image of Mount Olympus with the columns? Of course not. Those columns also represent American civic architecture (government buildings, etc). GWB speaks in front of columns at his convention because it looks classically American, but as soon as Obama throws up some columns it's because he thinks he's a god, right?

Must the Republicans be hypocrites about everything? I mean, this shit wouldn't even pass for third-rate character assassination in a high school. Is this all they've got? "The guy has columns on his stage?!" Too bad more than a few Americans will eat it up, not being "elitist" enough to recall that disgraceful and uppity columnar GOP convention in '04...

In other hypocrisy, John McCain went on Jay Leno (for his thirteenth appearance) to discuss what a celebrity bubblehead Obama is. When is someone going to call this guy out?!! And again with the POW thing. At what point can we call it like it is: that McCain is cheapening the tremendously honorable and indescribable experience that so many other Americans have endured as POWs? To constantly use it as a means of deflecting valid questions, McCain is complicit in making it a punchline; something it should never be. That is precisely NOT the definition of honor. It's rank opportunism. Or putting your "ambition" before "your country." Oh wait, no. That's what he accused Obama of doing...

Imagine if Obama kept saying, "You can't ask me about that issue because you know I grew up without a father, with a single mother, blah blah." Everyone would call him out for making excuses based on something from decades ago. So why is it not similarly seen as excuse-making when McCain deflects a question about something he did last year by saying he was a POW 40 years ago?!

That's all I'm sayin'...

Okay, my rant is done. I'm just so over the whole McCain hagiography. Let's have a debate about the issues, about each man's vision for our country, each man's temperament for the job. Let's talk about that.

DNC Day Two

I'm just going to say it: Could the Democratic Party have more boring speakers? Good lord. The first night was excruciating (Claire McCaskill and her "terrific" kids, anyone?) The second night, with a couple of exceptions, was more of the same. I understand that not everyone can be MLK or Ronald Reagan in the oratory department, but for the love of god, can we do better than Mark Warner as Keynote Speaker? YAAAWN... His theme was Future vs. Past, wherein he discussed his life and how he made money in cell phones, blah blah. All good enough material. But so boringly delivered. Had I been at the convention, that's when I'd have started milling around the room to find minor celebrities for photo ops (You may recall me startling poor Bill Nye, Science Guy in LA with my fandom). Warner even joked that it was hard to follow Barack Obama, the 2004 Keynote Speaker. Oh, Mark. I agree. It's pretty sad when your speech becomes the de facto bathroom break for delegates.

Next up were Montana Governor Schweitzer and Ohio Governor Strickland. Both were funny enough and certainly more interesting than Warner, who I think effectively ended any speculation that he is presidential candidate material.

Next up was, of course, Hillary Rodham Clinton. What can I say? She did it, and did it well. She was funny (thanking her "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits"), combative (No Way. No How. No McCain) and persuasive ("I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"). As my girl Julie G pointed out, HRC needs to ensure that she is not blamed should Obama lose the election. I think she is doing that. Now if only she could shut up her husband, who seems genetically unable to keep his fat cakehole shut even for one damn day, even for his wife's big night. It kills me to hear him be such a dick. It's just so disappointing for me because I used to support him so strongly. It's also disappointing because it belies an inability on his part to graciously cede the limelight to his wife. On her big day he has to make some stupid gaffe quote minimizing Obama so that--what a shock!--HE becomes the news rather than her. Now that the campaign is over, she needs to take that guy out back and give him a solid whuppin'.

Tonight will be the nomination night, wherein HRC's name will be placed into the nomination and she will then turn over her delegates to Obama. Everyone is making a huge deal out of the fact that she's being "allowed" to be nominated and whether this shows weakness on Obama's part. In fact, this practice has been standard for almost every modern convention (Jerry Brown in '92, Jackson in '88). In fact, it would have been a departure for HRC to NOT be permitted her name in nomination. Yet another example of the media actually creating a story rather than just reporting it. But you already knew that...

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Convention Day One

First things first. If you currently don't have kids and want to know how life changes for you once you do, let me outline the following:

E in 2000: Attended the convention in LA, the parties, the whole crazy thing
E in 2004: Attended the convention in Boston, the parties, the whole crazy thing
E in 2008: Watching the convention in Denver--on TV--after drawing pictures with Bambina to help her get to sleep. Wearing pajamas and looking weirder than that conventioneer on TV wearing the gigantic red, white and blue hat while dancing Elaine Bennis-style to 'Are You Gonna Go My Way' by Lenny Kravitz.

Your kids are indeed the future of America. But they are also the death knell of your 5-day party bender under the guise of restoring America. Belee'dat, yo.

Other thoughts:

If you are watching it on CNN or MSNBC you are seeing a vastly different and lamer show than if you just turn on C-SPAN. Seriously. Never has it been more obvious how the media chooses the news to report. While a really interesting piece on the DNC's efforts with Homes For Our Troops (where the DNC volunteers to build homes for injured Iraq war veterans during the convention) was airing on C-SPAN, CNN was airing riveting footage of...people walking into the convention hall, with inane voiceover courtesy of whatever CNN tool was talking at the time. MSNBC had a talking head thing going on too. It's pretty annoying and yet par for the course.

In an interesting act of journalistic clairvoyance, AP, apparently Michelle Obama has already spoken. Now, I'm sitting here watching Mrs. Robinson's intro of her daughter, and yet the AP website is reporting it like it's already happened. Note that that the time has been changed to 10:02pm from the 6:56pm it had been previously. I know the speeches are released in advance, but note how the piece makes it sound like it has already happened. That's curious, to say the least.

There are tons of bloggers at the convention, my favorites being Oliver Willis ("Like Kryptonite to Stupid"): and Ty Harrell (a wonderful man and friend who is currently a North Carolina State Representative): Neither of these men's reputations should be besmirched by the fact that I like them, by the way. No one needs that kind of baggage. I'd rather read daily updates from actual people than watch CNN. Because, as my favorite site,, taunts: "It's not news; it's CNN."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sorry This Stinks; It's Only Links

Some links to get your week started off right, since Mama Camp is still ongoing and writing will have to wait till evening:

First up, the brand new Ass Bra. Yep. Yet another thing women have to worry about hoisting for the pleasure of onlooking men: a saggy ass. While I maintain that mine is still elevated enough for my liking (if not anyone else's), I can assure you that I will never ever wear an ass bra. But you might like it (photo may or may not be safe for work):

Next up, can I just say "FINALLY!"? Hallmark is releasing same-sex marriage/commitment cards. Thank you! gay_wedding_cards
And, 3-2-1, of course the American Family Association has opened up a direct email line to send your outrage straight to Hallmark. I personally filled one out saying, "Thanks! You guys are great!" The AFA is funded pretty well; I think they can afford my email. (The only reason I'm not posting the link is that I don't want to pipeline anyone who supports their hate from my site).

And lastly for now, say goodbye to another airline "perk:" pre-boarding with your small children. The date show that they can save 12 minutes by not doing so, so therefore it's gone. To be honest, I was never a fan of it after a couple of instances of finding ourselves on an aircraft with a baby with nowhere to walk or move while the rest of the plane boarded. It just added time to the trip where I had to entertain a kid with no real entertainment options at my disposal. I wish they'd let us board LAST, once everyone else is on board, saving an overhead bin for the parents. That's about 15-20 minutes in my opinion of walking around the gate area, being active, and delaying the sit and don't move situation till the very end.

Check back tonight. Smooches gracias!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where's My Effing Text Message?

Barry, my EX-boyfriend: you promised you'd tell me first. And you know how I hate to be the last to know. So thank you very little for letting the media know before texting me (like you promised) about Joe Biden.

Jus' playin'! All is forgiven. Joe. Biden. Okay. I am wrapping my mind around it. I always liked Richardson for the job but apparently he has "lady" issues. I also liked Clark, but maybe something else was going on there. I never wanted Kaine or Bayh, who both represented change and...yawn...I can't remember. Anyway, I'm just glad it wasn't actually the dude Chet from Texas like some people were saying it would be. So what to say about Joey Big Mouth Biden? He's from blue collar Catholic roots, he commutes to DC every day from Delaware (as in, he hasn't succumbed to an Inside The Beltway lifestyle), he's rock solid on foreign policy, and he's seen as a guy who will say what he thinks no matter what. I think he's going to be precisely what the ticket needs in a VP candidate--and in a VP. He's totally at ease knocking people's dicks in the dirt when necessary. Like when he said of Giuliani, that all he says is a subject, a verb and 9/11.

Let's hope he calls out John "Did I Mention I Hate to Discuss My Captivity?" McCain whose response to everything these days seems to be, "He was a POW!" Don't know how many houses you own? That's okay, because he spent 5 years "in the same house," a prison. Asked if you heard Obama's answers during Saddleback? That's rude to ask because this man was a POW. Like, at what point can we all agree that a man can serve his country honorably and beyond any expectation, but that he can still be called out on other stuff he does? It's ironic, because the charge against the Obama campaign is that "you can't say anything about him or you're a racist." It would appear that the McCain campaign has decided that anyone who questions John "Former POW" McCain is unpatriotic, ungrateful and out of order. Believe me, I would never trade places with him in a million years. But come on. Thousands of American soldiers have been POWs. Are they automatically assumed to be honorable, honest and above reproach simply by virtue of that experience? Just as it's fair to ask questions of Obama, it's fair to ask questions of McCain. Like, how come you don't know how many homes you own? Why did you vote to approve the same kind of torture that was done to you? Why are you airing commercials about your opponent containing assertions you know to be false? It's unpatriotic NOT to ask.

But back to Biden. I think he has the potential to be a walking gaffe machine. But at the same time, I think things are going to get real interesting from here on out as a result of that forthrightness/verbal diarrhea. Especially if McCain picks Romney or Giuliani. Dear god, let it be Romney or Giuliani. That is a debate I'd miss my kid's birthday to see.

Anyway, it's easy to overstate the importance of a VP pick, to use it as a rohrschach test in which all your previously held notions are proven true. But I think it's safe to say that Biden is an asset in attracting those voters who may have been concerned about the issue of experience. Some pundits are saying that Biden highlights Obama's lack of experience, but I disagree. I think his choice reflects solid decision-making and good judgment from a man who represents change but who understands that you have to bring people along with you in a way that is comfortable for them.

(And just to be snarky, if I were running the O'Biden campaign, I'd recommend that, with his son being shipped to Iraq next month, Joe Biden start dodging questions with, "How dare you ask that! My son is a soldier!")

PS--And for those who are "outraged!" that Hillary was not even vetted for the position, here's the explanation for that from our friends at Jack and Jill Politics:

A) While you listen to Clintonistas whine, just hold hard to these truths, and spread them when you can.

Hillpatine was NOT vetted, because she wouldn’t answer the following questions:
1. What’s in her earmarks since the got to the Senate
2. What’s in the 18 million missing from the tax returns
3. What’s in Bill’s Donor List to the Clinton Library
4. What’s in Bill’s Donor List to the Clinton Foundation

So, if you come upon Clintonistas, smack them with the truth.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Camp Mama: The Week in Review

I'm beat. I think preschool teachers should be paid serious ducats for what they do. Now I feel like a cheap shmo for thinking that bringing the teachers coffee in the AM now and again is gesture enough.

I will say, however, that I am as happy as I am tired. It's pretty cool to have the opportunity to spend 5 full days with my kid; I know plenty of people would love to be so lucky, so I'm ever mindful of that fact. Mindful, especially when I'm dealing with a preschooler meltdown over not being allowed a popsicle at 10am and wondering when school starts again.

But the truth is that this has just been the sweetest week (and one more to go next week!). Getting the chance to hang out without a schedule, without having to get a small (non-morning) person up and out and teeth brushed and shoes on early in the morning has just been glorious--for her and for me.

Every morning she wants me to climb in bed with her until breakfast, so we've been able to hang out for more than the usual 6 minutes, which has created some of those will-stay-in-my-memory-forever moments that replay as you walk your kid down the aisle or see her launch into space or whatnot. Those moments that never leave you, even when your kid is now 35 and married. Not specific memories, of course, in the sense of "and then you said x and I said y," but rather, emotional memories, memories that evoke a feeling rather than a specific occurrence.

We've been hosting lots of playdates at our home and at local playgrounds. It has been really neat to see Bambina coming out of her shell in groups. She's extremely out going in small groups but a major wallflower in large ones. The other day at the park some punkass boys were telling her and her friend that they couldn't go in the wooden house. I was so proud when I saw this little 3-foot petite pois say really loudly to a much bigger boy, "You can't keep us out of the house! It's not your house! You have to share!" Of course, the bigger kid protested again and she acquiesced until the Girl Power Mommies got involved (because the boys were starting to wield toy shovels and other tools in the direction of the girls to physically keep them out of the house), but the point was that her first instinct was to stand up for herself even to a kid 6 inches taller and clearly 12 pounds heavier. I seriously teared up watching it, because that is the dynamo powerpunch of a kid that I've known since day one and that had kind of receded a bit over the drama and anxiety of the past year. I'm so glad to see her mojo is coming back, albeit slowly.

We were at the playground yesterday when another Asian girl came up and asked her to play, and off Bambina went. We all ended up back at the swings where the little girl looked me over askance and said, "Who are you?" I said, "I'm Bambina's mommy, E. And what is your name?" From there I met her father, who is originally from China, and it was off to the races. Turns out his wife is from quite near Bambina's hometown (near by Chinese standards, which is 2 hours away), and travels through it on her way home every year. So it was a cool meetup, and I could tell that Bambina was (in her usual pre-adolescent non-committal way) rather pleased to hear that someone knows her hometown and has been there.

Which led us to getting her passport photos taken so she can get the goods to come to China with us next year. Yeah, I know. A 5 year old on a 17-hour flight and in a hotel for 10 days with a new baby. I know. It's madness on its face. But we want her to see China, want her to see her nanny again, and want her to experience the process for Baby Sister as a way of helping her synthesize her own adoption. I get that she's young, but it's never too early, especially since she so badly wants to go. We talked a bit about her special nanny, the one she had bonded with. We've talked about her before, but this was the first time I really laid out (as a result of some questions she was asking) that this particular lady was the first person she bonded with. I told her about how she and the nanny touched foreheads and gazed into each other's eyes before the nanny had to leave back in 2005, and how that showed me how much they had cared for each other. She was delighted that she had had a special nanny (details on how many kids shared that special nanny can wait till later), and really seemed empowered by knowing that someone took care of her, and having the photo of us all together. Seeing her put the small pieces together sometimes breaks my heart (Who tucked me in at night? Did she tuck me in every night?), but then seeing her gain strength from having the information ("I'm going to China to bring home baby sister and to meet her nanny!") reminds me that it's always better to let her know her history (she does after all own it and has a right to it) than make shit up--or more likely avoid discussing--to spare myself some internal angst about watching my sweet, treasured 4-year old try to process not having had a mommy tucking her in as a baby. It's a lot for me to contemplate, never mind being four.

So this has been a week of firsts. Bambina can sight read basic words like "no" and "and" with prompting. Today we were doing our usual monthly review of Vogue Magazine (what she calls "perfume magazines"), tearing out all the perfume pages, rubbing them on our wrists (and she, her feet) to determine whether we're really feeling Armani Code this season or whether Vera Wang Bouquet is a little too pungent for us for late summer. It's a pretty fun ritual we engage in, made all the more fun by her desperate desire for the BBDD to try some too on his wrists. Anyway, I wasn't really looking at her when she said, "Why do all these pages say "Gap" on them? I didn't know what she was talking about till I saw a 7 page ad spread for Gap clothing. I said, "Did you just read that?!" She rolled her eyes, like DUH, and said yes. I recognize that she's not about to breeze through the WSJ Op-Ed section, but it's still pretty damn cool that my 4 year old is starting to recognize words and put them together by sound.

The other first is that we took her training wheels off her bike today. I'm not so sure she's ready, but she insists she is and so goodbye wheels, hello skinned knees. She's definitely not ready for solo work, but she's getting the hang of it. And the BBDD is due a professional back massage any day now after being hunched over her bike for 40 minutes.

So that's what I've been up to instead of reading a single shred of world news or current events and blogging on them. Maybe this weekend. Maybe not. Unless Obama names his VP and McCain remembers how many houses he owns (sorry-how many houses HIS WIFE owns), then I'm back in the saddle ASAP.

Have a great weekend! May you have some happy firsts as well.

Lame Links

All I've got for you today is links. I know. Lame. But some are even somewhat funny...

First, The Onion's expose on Obama's hillbilly half-brother, Cooter Obama:

Next, a woman submits a fake restaurant with terrible wine list to Wine Spectator Magazine; wins wine award:

Next, if you haven't seen this yet, it's the 11 Things Dwight Schrute Taught Me About Food:

And finally on a darker note, the following from Andrew Sullivan reminds us that, according to our current administration, John McCain was not in fact tortured in Vietnam. He was simply the recipient of "enhanced interrogation." It also details how McCain acquiesced in approving some of the techniques used on him by the Viet Cong for the US military. Pretty sad.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In the Cone of Silence

My recent elevation to Mama Camp Director has put me out of the loop, apparently, on several things.

First, John McCain apparently was not in the Cone of Silence during Obama's questions at Saddleback Church; he was riding in his limo with his staff, arriving a full half hour late to the church. So why didn't Rick Warren just say, "Senator McCain is on his way," rather than saying he was backstage and unable to hear? Whether anything untoward happened or not, the appearance of it is really not cool.

Second, Barack Obama is about to name his VP selection?! WTF?! I didn't get my special text message straight from Barack himself alerting me. (If you text 62262 on your cell you'll get his VP pick sent to your phone before anyone else). That's right. I, little old SS Haggis, will get a text with exclusive information before you chumps even know what's what! Oh. You mean everyone got that email? I shake my fist at you, David Plouffe!

Third, Paul Newman is sick and possibly dying?! Where have I been? Well, I'll tell you where I've been. I've been in bed dreaming about Mr. Paul Newman for the past three consecutive nights. So weird has it been that I confessed all to the BBDD this morning, who said, "Funny you should mention him; I just read that he is not expected to live much longer." Whaaaa? Wow. Then I am a total jerk. Because over the past 72 hours I have had sex with Paul Newman, gone to Costco with Paul Newman, and prepared chicken piccata in Paula Deen's kitchen with Paul Newman. And not Pool Hand Luke Paul Newman, either. No indeed. I'm talking all 80-whatever years of Paul Newman. And, as delightful and beautiful as Paul Newman is as a human being, husband and thespian (even at 80-something), I can say with 100% confidence that I have consciously thought of Mr. Paul Newman precisely zero times in all of my recent memory. So how I'm all of a sudden doing the dirty with him, then taking him to a wholesale club and then making a dish I don't even like with a cook I can barely watch without wanting to open a vein, is, well...I leave it to bigger minds than mine to figure out.

Fourth, I had cancer. Whaaa? Bambina and I had our first local pseudo-celebrity moment post-telethon at the grocery store. We were selecting some delicious-looking bananas (yellow with just a hint of green to allow for at-home ripening) when a lady came up to us and said really loudly and excitedly, "I know you! You had cancer!" I must have looked shocked and confused because she said, "On the TV! You were both on the TV! You're her! With the cancer!" For some reason I know not, the first thing I said was, "I didn't have cancer, but yes that's us." Like, why I felt compelled to ensure she knew I didn't have cancer is beyond me. It wasn't for Bambina's sake because "cancer" is about as familiar a word to her as "gemeinschaft." Who knows. But she turned out to be a really lovely lady who said she was praying for me and who seemed tickled to have met a person from the TV. Which makes me sad, since I am as close to the definition of a "person on the TV" as that guy who invented the word "gemeinschaft." But no matter. It was a nice exchange with a nice lady, and I was tickled, in the end, to have been approached for the first time in my life with those words that tell you you've hit the big time: "You! With the cancer!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh

Bambina is on vacation for 2 weeks until school starts. That means 14 13-hour days with a 4 year old. Which means that tomorrow is the first day of Camp Mama. Scheduled activities, tons of arts and crafts (thank you, and michaels), daily playground visits, a few playdates a week, and some field trips to museums. Hey! Maybe a Supercamp Olympiad* will break out! You just never know.

What I do know is the bloggage will have to take a back seat to parentage, at least during daylight hours.

Wish me luck.

*If you haven't seen Meatballs in a while, it's time to reshuffle that netflix queue.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I'm watching the candidate Civil Forum at Saddleback Church. This is really interesting TV because we are actually getting to hear the candidates actually talk in actual full sentences and actual full thoughts, without any attempt on the part of Pastor Rick (the moderator) to get a "gotcha" out of them. Which is not to say that he's not asking uncomfortable questions about policy, such as abortion. But he's not doing Stephanopoulos and Russert-style gotcha interviewing. (Sorry to all the people who so loved Russert; I couldn't stand him).

It's a total condemnation of the mainstream media that a pastor at a megachurch can provide a better look at presidential candidates than can our national media. See this if you can; it's worth it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Permission to Fail

Today was Bambina's last day at summer camp. I dragged my behind out of bed, into the shower, and into the car to pick her up because I had stupidly promised this AM that I would. She's been ready for a vacation for about the last two weeks. When I got there to pick her up I received her performance report for swimming. It said that she is afraid of the water and then went to great lengths to explain that much effort had been expended trying to fix this. It was not a surprise since the teachers had been giving me daily progress reports on Bambina's pool issues. I always brushed them off because I quite frankly did not care, but it is clear that a lot of parents did, if the teacher reactions are anything to go by.

Is it weird that I am totally okay with the notion that my kid is not going to be great at everything she does? Obviously we want her to learn how to swim (or as I like to say, "Learning to Not Drown is absolutely non-negotiable"), and it would be doubly great if she learned to love swimming. But if she doesn't ever love swimming and doesn't ever bring home 8 gold medals? I'm at peace with that. I'm more than "at peace" with it, actually. I'm positively supportive of it.

So why the teacher drama? It makes me wonder what kind of perfectionist parents they deal with all day that they feel they have to trip over themselves to assure me that they really have tried to get my 4 year-old swimming in spite of her lack of cooperation. They also reacted similarly when Bambina didn't eat a lot of her lunch. They explained, they detailed the methods they used to encourage her to eat her lunch, etc. Every time, I tried to cut off the conversation (recognizing that it's hard to have any kind of meaningful exchange with a teacher at dropoff and pickup) with, "We don't worry about what Bambina eats; but thank you anyway." Who are the parents thinking that it's a teacher's job to make their kid eat?! Or love swimming?! My job is to provide the lunch; it's Bambina's job to eat it if she's hungry. End of story. If she doesn't eat it, then she's going to be hungry by afternoon snack time. Whatever!

So, as well as feeling bad for these teachers, I feel doubly bad for those kids. Can you imagine growing up with parents who feel that everything you touch should turn to gold? That you must show aptitude in all areas of life? Helloo?! How many adults have universal aptitude? Precisely Zero. So why do we expect it from our kids? As I pondered the teachers' explanations and Bambina's clearly frustrated swimming instructor's report, I wondered if maybe I'm just a total slacker mom, that maybe I am promoting mediocrity, that maybe if I really loved my kid I'd put more effort into having her meet all these external expectations as a means to get ahead. But I just keep coming back to the same place: Bambina (as if it should even be needed) has my permission to fail.

I want her to try everything that interests her, and succeed or fail or flame out or whatever, as she is able. After all, don't we do our kids a disservice when we deny them both opportunities and permission to be mediocre at something? Isn't that a key life lesson, that sometimes you're just not going to be good at something? That while anything is indeed possible, it's okay to just be okay at something, it's okay to try an activity and not like it, it's okay to like something and not be good at it but practice really hard until you are good at it?

Such is the story of me and high school tennis. I loved tennis. I wanted to marry Andre Agassi and have two boys named Ivan Lendl Agassi and Boris Becker Agassi, and a girl named Martina Evert Agassi. I was, however, not good at tennis when I tried out for the team. I knew this and asked my parents if I should even bother. They said, "better to try it out and not make it than sit around wondering if you might have." So I tried out, and seeing as my town was a football/softball kind of town, the team had open slots and I made the team in spite of my woeful serve and volley. I practiced so hard that summer that I passed out some days from the heat. I devoured books like Tennis From Within and Martina's how-to book. I wanted it so badly and I worked for it. By the next season I made first singles and felt so glad I'd taken the risk to try out.

Success?! Not quite. I then began playing first singles against the other towns, which were tennis towns if you know what I mean (team trips to Hilton Head in February! Professional coaching paid for by wealthy parents!) and got my ass seriously handed to me every single time I played. So what did I learn? First, that it was okay to try something and potentially fail. Second, that it was okay to work and practice really hard at something that did not come naturally to me. And third, that it was okay to work really hard only to find that sometimes, someone is going to be better than me.

All of these have been really important life lessons that have stayed with me. What would have happened if my parents had said, "Don't bother; you're not good" or worse, "Try out and we'll get totally involved and make it clear that we expect you to absolutely excel in all areas of tennis or render us disappointed"? It seems that we are programmed to tell our kids how wonderful they are, how smart they are, how capable they are for fear that not doing so will harm their self-esteem and, god forbid, future college and job prospects. But how can you possibly prepare your child to live in the real world if you don't teach them that, as special and wonderful as they are, they will not always be The Best or The Prettiest or The Funniest or The Fastest? That the world is full of other really special kids who love tennis and can kick their asses in what they DO; none of which means anything about who our kids ARE.

Let me be clear that I'm not talking about letting your kid have no drive, no interests and no commitment to anything, nor am I saying we should ever stand in the way of their dreams (assuming of course that the child's dream for olympic glory, TV fame, Broadway success is indeed their own). I'm simply saying that perhaps it's best to not expect your 4 year old to shine reflected light onto you.

Jimmy Fund Telethon

UPDATE: I just saw my spot by accident. I now understand why some actors do not see their own movies. Moonfaces R Us, is all I can say...

Today is the last day of the Jimmy Fund Telethon. It's been going on since yesterday. My and my donor's story is supposed to be featured, but even I--self involved I--can't watch 48 hours of TV just to see myself. But if you want to, have at it. And be sure to donate while you're there. If you go to you can livestream it online. Or you can call 877-738-1234.

And the irony of today? As they air the story of my successful transplant, I am sitting on my couch feeling like hell. I got a fever last night that didn't come down even with Tylenol, so I'm taking antibiotics and laying low till I feel better. I've been feeling crappy for a couple of days, but just figured it was prednisone tapering, which can cause fatigue and blah-ness. Then last night I just sat down on the couch and couldn't get up even to do Bambina bedtime, and lo and behold it was fever time.

I'll post more if I feel better. Otherwise, have a smashing weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


You can always identify the Time of Death of a word from the hip hop lexicon: when white ladies start using it without irony. “Fo shizzle” was done the second Fran Drescher honked it out during an Old Navy commercial. And now, my friends, you can call Diddy to offer condolences on his word “bitchassness” because it’s now the title of this post.

I don’t particularly care for Diddy (Puff Daddy, Sean Combs, et. al). He’s an arrogant parody of himself at this point. But dang if I’m not enjoying his reality show, “I Want To Work For Diddy” for precisely those reasons. This man is simultaneously the antithesis and the second coming of Donald Trump, and his show out-trumps The Apprentice by a mile. Not because it’s quality TV. No no no, darlings. Because it’s uber-Trumpian while being more fun and ridiculous in its pomposity. Although to give credit where it’s due, the show demonstrates that Diddy is rich and famous because he works rather hard…and is not stupid.

Anyway, one of Diddy’s rules is “No Bitchassness” (available for sale, of course, on your choice of T-shirt on Diddy’s website). The loose definition involves a combination of no courage, passing the buck, making sh*t up to save your a** (ie, blaming or disrespecting others--especially when they are not around), weakness, and claiming hurt feelings when you get called out on said bitchassness. I laughed at the word and concept until I started seeing it all around me.

The Olympic announcers during that amazing USA swim relay. The one where they won by .04 seconds. The one where they made the taunting French team eat it. All through the race the announcers are saying things like, “I just don’t think they can do it, Jim.” And “I simply don’t see them winning this one.” Giving up on the team while the race is still on?! Trash talking Team USA while they are competing?!! Commentary bitchassness!

John Edwards. We all know he’s prevaricating on the issues of monies paid, babies fathered, etc. So why go on television just to lie? And to further put pressure on the people who helped him cover this up? Not to mention his family. Homeboy should have released an honest if not detailed statement and said, “I will have no further comment beyond this for the sake of my family.” Putting yourself on national television only to raise more questions about more lying? Putting yourself on national television to make statements that can be disproven, leading to more hurt for your wife and family? Nightline-assisted bitchassness. Fo sho.

Yes indeed. Once you start playing “Spot the Bitchassness” you just can’t stop. Your friend’s husband who told her he wouldn’t have cheated on her if she had/had not done more whatever, if she had said/not said more whatever, had been/not been more whatever. That is straight-up Shameless bitchassness that needs to be called out, and hard.

That coworker who clocks in at 9:01 and out at 4:59, who wants to be paid extra for every move she makes, who always seems disgruntled—but who, when she doesn’t get the promotion (and she never gets the promotion) blames it on the boss, the office, the people, anything but her own bad attitude. Career bitchassness.

Or that presidential candidate who doesn’t win after a dirty campaign (one that emails show to be dirty by design), who failed to plan for anything less than a coronation, who mismanaged millions of campaign dollars (in the sense that she was in the red really early in the game), and who continues to foment the meme that says she lost because of sexism, that is was other people’s fault, that she was put upon, that people were mean to her and disrespected her. Rather than saying, “I am responsible for the content and execution of my campaign, such as it was, and I didn’t win because of that content and execution.” The person engaging in bitchassness starts blaming others, passing the buck, keeping the PUMA efforts alive. That’s Electoral bitchassness that shouldn’t be getting a speaking slot at the convention.

Let me know if I've missed anyone.

My Combover

You know the "combover." That deplorable practice of balding men wherein remaining hair is grown long and then combed over a bald patch, fooling no one but the comber. I now feel that I understand these men to a degree most women do not.

You'll recall that I lost a bit of hair last year post-chemo. Albeit in random places and certainly not in any way rendering me bald. But hair was sacrificed regardless. Now, I'm not of the generation who thinks that a woman's hair is inherently intertwined with her femininity or "womanhood." I've seen too many completely gorgeous women with extremely short--or no--hair to believe that you have to have Farrah Fawcett's mane to get a man; or that you must have a certain type of hair in order to be a feminine woman. It's for that reason that I never got too wigged out (pardon the pun) by my hair loss. I wasn't too psyched that it looked weird, in the sense that it was random and bizarrely-patterned, but that was more my neatnik issues than my coiffure issues. I never once looked in the mirror and thought, "Oh my god, you look so ugly because your hair is falling out." I just thought, "Why can't it fall out totally or at least in some semblance of order, for heaven's sake?!"

All the same, as the hair grew back in I decided that I would grow my hair long. Partly because I have to sunscreen my entire body every time I leave the house and short hair just creates more neck/ear real estate to worry about. And partly because I didn't want to do the expected "cut your hair short when it's falling out" thing. I had long-ish hair before the transplant and I wanted to just get back to normal after the transplant.

Well, I realized a few weeks ago that my desire to grow my hair long was actually a desire to hang on to the hair I have, rather than to actually have long hair. This is the very definition of a Combover Man. A person losing hair, and who therefore can't bring himself to cut the hair he still has. How did I come to this conclusion? Because I wear my long hair in a pony tail every damn day, my friends. And because--fashion alert--I don't look that great with really long hair (just as no man looks good with a sheet of hair wrapped around his head). Or, rather, I look good with long hair if I spend some time blowing out, curling, gelling it. But on a daily basis in this house, you know that is just not going to happen. And so what you get is me in a ponytail. Every day. The additional issue is that I do have to wear a hat when I go outside to shield my face from the sun. My current hair situation then requires a ponytail so that I don't end up with constant hat head.

So today I'm getting my combover cut off.

I'm not going too short. The days of me being 102 pounds and carrying off that Natalie Portman-in-V-For-Vendetta look are waaay gone. But I'm going chin length and funky. I definitely don't want a classic "I used to be sick" haircut, and I definitely do NOT want a "mom" haircut, which leads inevitably to wearing "mom" jeans and seasonal sweaters. Those are the two things I think I have been fearing and which had been keeping me committed to having long hair. I have told the BBDD to seriously smack me out of my mental state if I ever come home looking like this:

But with any luck--and a little vigilance--that shouldn't be necessary. In any case, I'll post some before and afters later today. And maybe I'll throw on a reindeer sweater with light-up santa earrings just for kicks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vacation Day

No blog today. We're off to the beach.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Bunch of Tuesday For Ya

Being outclassed as I am in my knowledge of Baltic affairs, I cannot post a single word on the situation in Georgia. Thank god for Newshoggers who can keep you up to date rather nicely. Note some good stuff on Iran as well.

On the topic of John Edwards, here is an article in the Times of London about 5 prominent men who got away with affairs, and 5 who didn't: themoderatevoice

And then, here, from my man Josh Green, those internal memos from the Clinton campaign showing how it imploded. My favorite memos are from Mark Penn (he of the Rove School), wherein he says that Obama's: “boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii exposes a very strong weakness for him – his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a President during a time of war who is not at the center fundamentally American in his thinking and values. Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches, and the values. He doesn’t.”

Riiiight. Because Hawaii is not part of America, and people who live there are not "fundamentally American"... Did Mark Penn not notice the entire calendar year of 1959? Why is it that Hawaii is considered not "fundamentally American" and yet no one is saying calling out Alaskans? Both entered the Union in 1959, so it can't be seniority... Mark Penn is an a**hole, is all I'm saying.

Although, on the topic of bigotry, thank God we don't live in Spain where both Olympic basketball teams appear in a full page newspaper ad making "slanty-eyes." I'm not kidding. How does that happen and NO ONE thinks its racist?! Monumentally Unbelievable. I hope they lose in China, just for poetic justice. (or is that not in the Olympic spirit for me to say to a classy group of athletes like Spain's?)

And finally, back on the topic of John Edwards. Or, actually, on the topic of me being a clueless facebooker. If you're familiar with Facebook, members can write status updates, telling their friends what they are up to at a given time, or offering opinion on current events. Yesterday I wrote something to the effect of "Men who cheat--especially on their sick wives--are terrible" or something like that. I immediately got three emails from people on Facebook inquiring if all was okay at my house. I was stunned. I rushed to change my status message to, "I was referring to John Edwards."

I know I'm not a 13 year old girl hanging out on MySpace, but I kind of thought I'd figured out at least Facebook, it being for more of an older audience and less "LOL!LOL!OMG!" than the other sites. But, consider me shocked. I had no idea that, in the unlikely event of my husband cheating on me, that I would be expected to post it on my facebook status page! Am I that much of a relic that I wouldn't share details of infidelity online? I mean, I can be a "woman scorned" as much as the next lady; don't get me wrong. But in that event perhaps my status would read, "E: is currently awaiting trial for homicide." What it wouldn't read is: "E: is mad at her cheating husband, who is going straight to hell." I don't know. Maybe it's time for me to recognize my age and just get back to having a pen pal from the Gambia via snail mail. This article, however, gives me hope that at least I didn't do any of these:

Have a super Tuesday. I'm off to update my facebook status...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Special Place In Hell reserved for men who cheat. And how about those stand-up guys who want credit for ensuring their wives were IN REMISSION before getting it on with another woman? Wow.

I have had an Edwards post ready to go for a few days but was waiting for something besides the Enquirer to report it before posting. After all, these are the "Reese Witherspoon is having Jake Gyllenhaal' s baby" people. You can't be too careful with a "paper" you buy in the checkout aisle, now can you?

But now that he's come out of the selfish pr*ck closet, I can let 'er rip on the late, great John Edwards.

First, on behalf of the Democratic Party: what if you had gotten the nomination and this had come out now, weeks before the convention? Thank you for handing the election to the GOP. What if you'd wasted Obama's time as a potential VP or cabinet pick?

Second, on behalf of women in general: We get why you did it, "narcissism" and all. But HOW did you do it? You love someone for so many years and find yourself physically able to be with someone else so easily? How does that happen? How do you so easily throw away a loving, long history for a chance to drop your drawers with some chick you just met? Call it Mars/Venus, whatever. But how you get to say you love one woman in the same breath that you have to discuss the fatherhood of another woman's baby is simply beyond me. How your wife is still with you is also beyond me.

Thirdly, on behalf of men everywhere: They are not thanking you, because actions like yours create conversations like this: Woman: "Why do guys do that? What's wrong with men?" Man: "Honey, I don't know." Woman: "No, but really. What is it with guys? How can you guys do stuff like that?" Man: "What do you mean 'you guys'? We're still talking about John Edwards here, right?"

And finally, on behalf of women who've come through a life threatening illness. Let me just say this, and feel free to remove the kids from the room before I say it: You were so grateful to God for your wife's (at the time) survival of cancer that you just had to f*ck another woman? So thankful your kids still had a mother that you felt compelled to poke your pecker in some hippy-dippy aging party girl? What kind of amoral universe do you live in, John Edwards? How do you cap off a year of your wife fighting for her life by cheating on her? And you get caught by visiting her--after coming clean to your wife--without your wife's knowledge of the visit. These are not the actions of a contrite man, lying AGAIN to your wife.

John, I have always been on board your war on poverty. But now I'm going to have to ask you to declare war on the poverty of compassion and empathy that is clearly present in your own soul.

Friday, August 08, 2008

"If This Wall Could Talk"

Laughing out loud after reading this article in last week's Forverts, by Scott Jacobson, about the theft of the Obama prayer from the Western Wall:

For the non-clickers among you, here it is:

Last week, the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv printed the text of a prayer note left by Barack Obama at the Western Wall. After much internal debate, the Forward has decided to publish the following. These statements were obtained in a journalistically ethical fashion: We coughed loudly and crammed them into our pockets while we pretended to pray.

John McCain — Lord, please bless me with rock star charisma. And a younger, more handsome body. And a goat-herding Kenyan grandfather. And the approval of Oprah. Also, make me black. Even if it’s a thing like Robert Downey Jr. in that new movie coming out. Please, I’m begging here. Amen.

Reverend Al Sharpton — Psst. Hey, Wall. I’m sort of like you, in that public figures visit me only when they want to make a display of tolerance. Also, people tend to cram paper scraps into my crannies, but I do not encourage this. Let’s get together and talk shop! P.S. I’m not the guy who said “Hymie Town.”

George W. Bush — Dear Jewish ATM machine, I find it real weird I gotta stick a paper into a wall to take out five 20s. Ehud told me I was supposed to stick this in ya and wait awhile. Five 20s, I said. One hundred sheckies. And I want a receipt.

Madonna — Western Wall, namaste and mazel tov. I wish you a blessed day, by the wisdom of my many Kabbalah anklets, my pinkie tefillin and my sacred midriff mezuza. Hot damn, Jewish stuff is cool!

Dick Cheney — Dear Lord, Please grant me the [CLASSIFIED] to [CLASSIFIED] so that I may [CLASSIFIED] and one day rain hellish vengeance on the [EXPLETIVE DELETED].

George W. Bush — Now I see Ehud snickerin’ at me over there. He’s not gonna prank me — I’m the pranker. All right, I’ve got it. Lord, I am in need. Grant me five 20s. And a receipt. Ha! Didn’t see that coming, did you, Olmert?

Titus Caesar, 70 C.E. — Dear Wall, All day I’ve been busy with the slaying and the plundering and the reducing holy sites to rubble. But I’m gonna leave you alone. Know why? Caesar likey your style. Also it’s inexplicably satisfying to stick notes into you. Ciao, babe.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How To Tell Someone They Sound Racist

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the link. This is actually a really cool, short video:

Suing Shrinks Swelling

After having just posted about listening to Joel Osteen, here is an article about a lawsuit against his wife and co-pastor. Apparently she was involved in an "air rage" incident back in 2005. I don't know what the real story is; perhaps the good Mrs. Osteen is a nasty piece of work who slammed a flight attendant up against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the breast in an attemp to breach the flight deck. That being said, I am curious to understand how the complainant can sue for damages that include the development of "anxiety and hemorrhoids" as a result of said incident. It's not like she got elbowed in the butt crack now, is it?,2933,398542,00.html

(Apologies for the link to Fox News, but you know if any news outlet is covering this world class story of Evangelist's Wife Causes Hemorrhoids, it's gotta be Fox.)

If God Hadn't Wanted Us To Eat Animals, Why Did He Make Them So Tasty?

I'm not sure if I've mentioned in these pages before that I have a love/hate relationship with meat. For example, I love bacon. Can't get me enough bacon. Have eaten turkey bacon for years but positively salivate whenever I get to eat actual piggie bacon (like in a restaurant). At the same time, hamburger meat and anything chicken borderline nauseates me if I think about them for too long.

I was a vegetarian many moons ago when the "meat" options in our college dining hall were usually some type of unidentifiable gray slice/chunk/hunk. After avoiding meat for 3 years I just lost the taste for it. I can't recall the exact moment I ate meat again, but I bet I liked it. And I bet it was bacon-related.

Then came our move to Georgia, home of the chicken-packing plants. All it took was one local TV news expose of a local plant to completely turn me off it for what I was sure would be forever. I'm talking dried chicken parts stuck to machines, y'all. I'm talking flies buzzing around. It was so horrifying, especially because I'd turned on the usually-to-be-avoided local news to get the weather and all of a sudden I was looking at eviscerated chickens and struggling to control my gag reflex. I'd call that "stormy and unsettled" weather if you ask me.

Then I ate chicken again years later, no doubt in some kind of disguised "nugget" or "patty" form that allowed me to not associate it with the actual fowl parts hanging from dirty machines. Chicken breast meat, however, continued to make me a little queasy and always has, even if I've somehow managed to eat it.

Then along came my immune-system issues to sound the death knell for my random meat eating. Or so I thought. What it became was a practice of not eating meat outside my home where I couldn't control how it was cooked (what's with chefs getting all uppity when you want something "well done, like burned, okay? Not a trace of life, okay?"). Then it morphed into only eating it outside the home because I couldn't make myself take a whole chicken apart, nor could I stand that feeling of ground meat squeezing through my fingers as I made burgers. So, as you can tell, I have been a tortured, uncommitted, on-again/off-again vegetarian for totally non-political reasons. But that uneasy feeling about eating meat just keeps coming up over and over again.

When we were kids my dad took us to a slaughterhouse. Yeah, you went to Disneyworld for your summer vacation; we were Scottish and eccentric, so we went to slaughterhouses. He had worked in one and as a result had an abiding respect for the animals he ate, which he wanted to impart to us. He wanted us to get that meatloaf didn't come from the meat department at Tesco. It came from an animal that had given its life so we could eat it. For all of you concerned about what such a visit did to little snowflakes like me, my brother and sister, the answer is: a whole lotta nothing. We thought the place was cool, if a bit gamey smelling. I think my sister might have slipped on a pool of blood and gotten blood all over her clothes, if my 5 year old memory serves. We also thought that was cool. I'm sure my father was disappointed in our totally irreverent non-reaction to his "Respect For God's Creatures" field trip.

I never really thought about that trip again until I was telling it to Bambina, who like my old 5 year-old self, thought it was cool. (As a side note, the only meat she will eat is called a nugget and hails from Golden Arches, USA. We've tried to get her to eat meat but she just ain't havin' it). But then she said, "So they kill the cow?" Me: Yep. Her: "That's not nice!" And I was forced to say, "well, I kind of agree. But lots of people eat meat and think it's fine, so if you think it's fine that's completely okay." Her: "that not fine." The she asked if they kill chickens too. Yep. And pigs? Yep. Goats? Oh. Goats? Hmmm...Yes, in other countries a lot of people kill and eat goats. Turns out that Bambina's summer camp just had a visit from a small family farm that brings baby animals for the kids to gently pet under heavy supervision. They have dogs, cats, goats, ducks, chickens, swans and pigs. Well, Bambina was so in love with the goat that the notion of someone killing it to eat dinner really bothered her. I assured her that her baby goat would not be killed or eaten; I SWEAR. (Mama LIES!!!)

But it got me thinking. I serve her the Morningstar Farms veggie chicken nuggets at home and she devours them while saying, "and they didn't kill a chicken!" (If only McD's would serve veggie nuggets, we'd be home free). :) Listening to her try to process the whole meat-eating situation has gotten me in some knots because I really don't know how to explain it to her in a way that makes sense, mostly because I haven't come to any conclusions about it either. When I was real young my parents were rather religious (they subsequently recovered before inflicting any real damage), and offered the "man has dominion over the animals" thing from the bible. Good enough for me, especially if it involves a trip to a slaughterhouse! But I can't bring myself to just lay down that argument for Bambina because I'm not sure having dominion means getting to kill them. I don't know. If she was 100% a committed meat eater I'd have less trouble with this issue because I'd just be so damn glad she was eating caloric food that I'd shut my cakehole. (See where my principles go when under pressure?) But because she is expressing ambivalence, my ambivalence is showing too. The BBDD takes no position on the issue and simply cooks her food that she'll eat, which generally involves mac-and-cheese, soba noodles with tofu, grilled cheese, croissanwiches, etc...oh my god--and shrimp teriyaki! She hasn't asked about the shrimp yet! Must find a response to "is it okay to kill shrimp?" before it comes up...

Anyhoo, all of this malarkey is simply preface to this article from Slate which describes how your chicken floats in gigantic vats of chlorine to effectively remove traces of feces and to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria before processing for sale and how that affects the taste of American chicken.

And if you have made it through my little self-referential, agoniste, stream-of-consciousness carnivorous caviling, you will now know that I'm once again unable to eat chicken:

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Outsleaze the Sleazebags

From Andrew Sullivan:
I'm not sure this will work but it's worth a try. During the primaries, it felt as if the voters were often controlling the campaign. Especially with Obama and Ron Paul, the pampered professionals were out-messaged, out-Youtubed and out-organized by legions of amateurs. I know the general election is inevitably more concentrated and remote than the primaries, but it's sad to see this new media democratic moment pass. It's especially sad when so many of us are now forced to sit back and wait for various pros to unveil their latest negative ads and then debate them - giving them oxygen and exposure and power. I really don't want to give Steve Schmidt that kind of satisfaction, do you? I don't want to live through another lame, predictable bout of Britney-mania without some pre-emptive mockery.

So here's a thought. Couldn't we take some of that power away from the pros - especially with negative advertizing - by pre-empting and defusing them? What I'm thinking of is a Dish Youtube contest to come up with the least fair, most effective negative ads for both sides. The technology is widely available for making your own 30-second negative spots, and it's good therapy. So let's flood the zone. I know it sounds cynical, but in fact, it's the opposite. If we can put out the most damning attacks on Obama and McCain we can, it could help dilute the nasty noise from the party establishments, expose the mechanisms of smears and take the wind out of the sails of the pros.

The idea is not to produce crude and ugly smears or lies.

The content must be factually accurate (even if horribly misleading) and the images for real. And if you want to play the race or "elitist" or emasculating card against Obama or the age or temper or war-monger card against McCain, it has to be done so that there's an official "issues-based" defense of the ad, even though it's transparently a smear of sorts. By doing this, we could even help expose the way in which this cynical enterprise is constructed by the pros.

Cut and paste some video and audio and make the ad you would love to run against the candidate you oppose. Put it up on Youtube and send me the link. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post the best ones and then we can vote on the best, or worst, if you see what I mean. Maybe one of them will be so good it will go viral and shift the debate a little. Or maybe it will be too complicated for many respondents to take art. Who knows?

What I do know is that I'm sick of sitting back and waiting for the big guns to unload. The election doesn't have to be that way any more. So let's take back the narrative by pre-empting the nasties. And we can have some fun at the same time. Deal?


I LOVE it. You?

The End of Black Politics?

Here's a link to a fantastic article that will be in this Sunday's NYT Magazine, on the End of Black Politics. It's a truly interesting look at the generational divide among African-American politicians and leaders, and what that means for the future. It's 9 pages, but totally worth the time.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Amanda Hugandkiss

When you are a parent you try to teach your kid basic fundamentals for safety. Hold the handrail on the stairs, don’t touch the stove, no running near the pool, don’t put things up your nose or in your vagina (you never imagine you will ever have to say those words, but you will), don’t talk to strangers, and tell mommy or daddy or a teacher if a grown up touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

So how do well-meaning grown-ups undo all that work? Well, let me start with The Weird Waitress. Bambina and I went out for lunch to her favorite restaurant (the one with the talking moosehead). Along comes a friendly (although I would say “overly familiar”) waitress who not only says hello and engages Bambina in a conversation independent of me, but then sits next to her in the booth and proceeds to stay and chat for 5 minutes. I was out of my seat, I tell you. Like, what adult thinks its okay to walk over and sit themselves down next to someone’s child they don’t know? Bambina was giving her the hairy eyeball and I was glad. I WANT my kid to find that uncomfortable. So I stood up and got in her space and she finally moved along, but I was dumbfounded by the level of familiarity shown by a total stranger. So I just said it: “that was weird, huh?” And Bambina said, “yes!” So we talked about how that was not normal behavior and not okay for that lady to have just sat down near her without asking mama, blah blah. So at least I acknowledged and affirmed Bambina’s sense of self in that scenario, which is my goal. I want Bambina to trust her instincts, that little voice inside her telling her something doesn’t feel right. I want her to trust that voice. But how unfortunate that we even had to have the conversation.

Same with kisses and hugs, which we’ve talked about before. But it bears repeating. I don’t know many adults who would randomly kiss and hug someone they’ve just met, even if I assured them that the person in question was a really good friend of mine. "Mom, Dad, this is Sal my plumber. Come here and give him a hug and a kiss." It would just feel wrong, wouldn’t it? So--why do we do that to kids? Why do we want them to kiss and hug people who mean something to us but nothing to them, rather than recognize that we are asking the child to circumvent their little voice, their instinct to not want to kiss or hug someone they do not know? I have terrible memories of kissing people I couldn't bear when I was a kid. Smelly people, people with hairy faces, and people who just plain weirded me out (I'm talking about you, JN!). I had to kiss them all because some grown up told me to, as if putting my lips on a stranger's (or worse, a person I knew but who made me feel icky's) face was somehow the definition of "polite." It's just not right, in my opinion, to make your kid do something that you yourself would not do on a bet.

We recently had friends over and the woman did the High Five with Bambina. That is the way to go as far as I’m concerned. Because it gets the kid to meet someone you think is special, to interact with them, but without mandating intimate physical contact with a person who is, to the child, a stranger. Bambina will high-five anyone, as will most kids. But give a hug? Don't hold your breath. She loves getting hugs and kisses, and when she's in the mood she loves giving them--to people she loves. But anyone else is S out of luck. And honestly, that's just fine with me. I like that my kid is standoffish about unfamiliar people. I like that she balks at any command to display affection. I like that she is the kid least likely to wander off with someone who offers her candy.

And I especially like that we now tell and re-tell The Story of The Weird Waitress to anyone who will listen.

In Which E Learns to Love the Podcast

I’ve never been into podcasts. Don’t know why; just haven’t really embraced them. However, in my now-fourth month of recidivous insomnia, I’ve realized getting on my laptop or reading a book simply wakes me up more. Enter the podcast. (For info purposes, these are recorded talks, programs, etc that you can download onto your Ipod for later listening. You can download one item or subscribe to a series). I simply turn on my Ipod, choose the podcast, lie back down and if not sleep, at least enjoy a few hours of quality listening.

At the moment I’m opting for a lot of Chinese-focused stuff. Features like “Ask Amber” from This is a show where Amber living in Shanghai answers questions about Chinese culture. The topics range from Roommates to Pollution to Spitting to What Beijingers Think About the Olympics to Why Chinese People Don’t Like Cold Drinks. It’s really interesting and really informative. And Amber sounds so cute and smart that it’s pleasant to hear her voice at 3am.

I’m also listening to a Mandarin language learning podcast with Serge Melnyk, as well as an NPR download on Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet. Washburn is fluent in Mandarin, and her music fuses American bluegrass and folk with Chinese folk music. It’s really pretty amazing to hear her take traditional Chinese songs and put them to banjo and fiddle. It sounds absolutely amazing, like they were always meant to come together.

On other topics, I’ve been listening to (gasp!) Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. I’m seriously considering re-starting my public speaking career, only moving it away from nonprofit charitable issues and focusing instead on the whole stem cell transplant process: arrival, survival, revival, and thrival. As such I’m interested in hearing speakers speak, whatever their topic. Whatever your opinions of these two people or their ministries, y’all, they can speak. And again, they are not annoying at 3am. (And for my people worried about me going off the reservation, I also listen to the Weekly Parsha D'var Torah with Ari Goldwag...)

I’m slowly tapering off the prednisone, and if all goes as planned, I should be able to sleep through the night by October. Which is important because I will need all my energy to be a microwave for Halloween. (As you’ll recall Bambina came up with some funky costume ideas for the family). She is going to be a window, I will be a microwave, and BBDD will be an oven. I have NO idea how we’re going to pull this costume design feat off without some Michael Kors/Heidi Klum/Tim Gunn input, but we’ll just try to make it work.

Perhaps there is a podcast for insane Halloween ideas?

Xanax, Please

I haven't been posting on political stuff lately for one primary reason: it's too damn depressing. Depressing to see the dire state of the political process in America. Depressing to watch someone I, a lifelong Democrat, almost voted for once turn from a "straight-talking maverick" into just another candidate acting like the ends justify the means. Depressing to see the shocking quantity of mouth breathing that passes for political discourse these days. Depressing to see America either not care or buy into the lies as if their next meal depended on it.

Much has been made of McCain's consultants brought on board to "right the ship." They are fingered as the Rovian proteges responsible for the recent negative barrage of campaigning. But here's the most depressing thing for me, a former political person myself: in all my graduate studies, in all of my practical experiences, there was never any disagreement on the one fundamental principle of being a political consultant: the candidate is in charge. You offer your expertise, you strongly, strongly advise the candidate on a variety of ways to campaign, fundraise, speak, whatever; some of them less than shiny and happy. But the final ethical responsibility lies with the candidate. As in, "I'm John McCain and I Approved This Message." You can pitch Willie Horton to the candidate, but unless THE CANDIDATE says he won't go there, the campaign goes there. The final, ethical responsibility for the conduct of the campaign always lies with the candidate.

Which is why I grew to despise Hillary during the primaries and why I am well on my way to loathing John McCain in the general. You can blame Howard Wolfson or Karl Rove or Mark Penn all you want. But when a campaign runs an ad that is borderline racist, when a campaign allows its surrogates to hold forth in deeply offensive ways, when a campaign resorts to innuendo and fear to drive voter participation in this democracy down, you don't have a rotten campaign. You have a rotten candidate.

A rotten candidate aided and abetted by none other than the MSM (mainstream media), who need a sideshow, some bread and circuses to keep the public (themselves?) titillated so they don't notice their abdication of professional responsibility and their disturbing coziness to the very people they purport to keep honest.

A rotten candidate aided and abetted, sadly, by us. The public. The ones who apparently can't keep our candidates as straight in our minds as the characters on The Hills. Who apparently missed the high school lesson on caveat emptor: buyer beware; that maybe we should assume someone is trying to sell us something (a product or a belief or an opinion or a candidate), and maybe we should therefore think critically about what we're being told. Or, we could just get back to watching So You Think You Can Dance.

Me, I've been depoliticizing my inner chi by watching "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew." Yes, for the dancing but mostly because simply repeating the title kills a full minute and harmlessly releases a hefty quantity of otherwise inchoate rage in the process. I mean, who besides Donald Trump and Aaron Spelling need their names above the title? There's a reason this is not called "E Presents Star Spangled Haggis's Best Blog Crew." Such magnanimity involves a great deal of humility and integrity and a firm sense of that which is appropriate.

And also because I am certain I'd be laughed at for the mere attempt.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Quick. Name the sitting US Senator/Candidate for POTUS who has:

Hosted Saturday Night Live
Appeared eight times on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
Appeared twelve times on the "Late Show with David Letterman"
Appeared ten times on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"
Appeared three times on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"
Appeared on the show "24"
Appeared in the movie Wedding Crashers, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Scrubbed his campaign website wherein he was referred to as "a political celebrity."

Now, name the one who is accusing someone else of being a "celebrity" as a means of saying "unfit for office."

You already know the answer.

Senator McCain: Next appearing in "Jerk, Lies and Videotape" and "Dumb and Dumber."

*credit to Politico and IMDB for the info.