Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gimme A Break

So I've been thinking. A few of you, online and off, have recommended a "Gone Fishin'" sign rather than an Everything-Must-Go sale. Maybe you've got something there. So I'll be back May 1st.

Thank you, sincerely, for all the good wishes and supportive thoughts. I really do appreciate the online love!

See you May 1st!!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I'm having trouble caring about blogging. Or, rather, I'm having trouble caring about the stuff I ought to cover in this blog. Maybe it's writer's block, but maybe it's something more than that.

When Star Spangled Haggis began in 2004, it was something I threw up (with the help of a very tech-savvy friend) because some family and friends liked my kooky stories about work and life and politics. So it was a way to tell the stories and keep in touch with people I already knew.

In 2005 it served as a wonderful way to communicate with friends and family while we were in China being joined with Bambina.

It has more recently served as a way to communicate all the funny and stupid and unpleasant elements of a stem cell transplant.

Somewhere between the transplant and now, I've lost the urge to talk politics 24/7. Maybe because I don't have the time I had while a shut-in to read/surf the web/study/ and understand all the issues, any post on a given topic feels like it would be nonsense prattling.

I've also found myself straying into Dear Diary territory and that breaches the Prime Directive of this blog from its founding: no diary writing. I'm also veering into Mommy Chronicles territory, which is entertaining now and again, but not really something that makes me sit up till 2am getting on a blog.

So, as U2 said after the monster success of The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum, "this is the end of something...we have to go away and...dream it all up again." What they dreamed up was Achtung Baby, an album unlike any they had created before. One particular song on AB, called Acrobat, really spoke to my 1992 self. A couple of lines are speaking to me now:

What are we going to do now it's all been said?
No new ideas in the house, and every book's been read.

So I'm thinking that might be what I need to do here. Maybe go away and dream it all up again. Find a new voice, a new way of saying new things. Maybe let the Haggis go with dignity before I manage to kill it with mediocrity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's Cookin?

Well, folks, I decided to channel my inner Mad Men-50's-housewife and cook today. I was making meatballs with pine nuts and golden raisins From Scratch. Okaaaay. How did it go? The good news is they tasted great. The bad news is that it took me HOURS to make them. Not because the recipe itself is complicated and necessitating hours of cooking. Nope. Just because I am lacking in basic kitchen technique, which is exacerbated by being knife-phobic. I cut myself all the time. Any random cooking event with me turns into that knight scene from The Holy Grail, where his arms are spurting blood and he's yelling, "It's just a flesh wound!" I am the reason Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle: you don't want my body parts in your food! So: one medium onion = 20 minutes to "chop finely." Twenty. Then forget mixing the stuff together with the turkey meat, because having my hands in raw meat nauseates me. So I was dithering all around it with a plastic fork because all my other forks were in the dishwasher being washed at that exact moment. Add another 20 minutes. Then sauteeing the onion till translucent but not colored: What? you want me to WATCH a sautee pan as it cooks? Apparently so. Man, this is a fucking CHORE! Who does this?! Finally I get all the stuff in the meat and fork it around, then realize that I cannot form the meatballs because that would require me to put my hands in the raw meat! At that point, an hour had passed and I called the BBDD to tell him dinner was ready, except for the making of the actual balls, the actual frying of the actual balls, the actual placing of the actual fried balls in the sauce, and the actual full cooking of the actual balls in the sauce.

He's a smart man, so he simply said, "That's great!"

Idol's Doing Country. God Save America.

I had major trepidation, but Li'l Rounds has just shown us how it's done. Randy hates it, but I thought it was good. The judges hate it, I loved it. Standard comment: "You seemed uncomfortable with that song." Hello! You chose COUNTRY! Who ISN'T uncomfortable singing that? Randy Travis is the helper this week, and he is just so straight that his discomfort with these kids is obvious.

Paula Abdul as always is babbling and irrelevant. She either needs to stop the drugs or take more. The BBDD says she is trying to look like "Sophia Loren At 60." This is not a compliment.

Adam is up. He's doing Ring of Fire with sitars, etc. It's definitely a non-standard rendition of the song. Weird, actually. Creepy, actually.

Here comes Scott, a really impressive musician who happens to be blind. He's not great when he's without his piano, but whether he wins Idol or not, he's got a career. More Paula prattling.

Again, this show is boring this season. Last season had people to piss you off or freak you out. This year: YAWN. I'd rather watch Glenn Beck.

No, I take that back.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Oh joy of joys! It's going to be in The Fifties this week in Haggisland, and don't you know it, my fellow New Englanders are doing what we do best: dressing like it's July. Yes, so desperate are we for good weather (after what has to be a record for Shittiest Winter EvAr), we immediately throw on the beachwear the second the snow melts. We were outside almost all day all weekend. During which Bambina learned to ride her bike without training wheels! It was hell on the back, but heaven on the eyes to help her do it. She just decided she wanted the wheels off, and for a little while it was utter hell to ride with her because we were essentially propping her up by one hand the entire ride. Then on Saturday, the BBDD decided to suggest we go for it. She bit, and about 35 minutes later, she was rocking the house. Seeing her total sense of accomplishment was almost tear-inducing. Especially when (reticent kid that she is when it comes to PDA) she pulled us both toward her for a Group Hug and kiss after every instance of riding alone. Good times.

I finally watched the Jon Stewart-Jim Cramer set-to this weekend. Whoa. I could barely watch it, so cringey is it to see someone get so thoroughly eviscerated by a comedy host. Although, let's be honest, in that interview, Jon Stewart displayed more journalistic chops than CNN and all the networks put together: asking uncomfortable questions, not letting him off the hook, making the guy and the audience squirm a little. Oh to have a press corps that could say it was better than a guy on Comedy Central...

For those of you interested, John King on CNN interviewed Dick Cheney this weekend. Frankly, I couldn't watch it. I just can't stomach anything Richard has to say, especially now. Why the hell anyone is giving this cretin a forum is beyond me. Like, for 8 years the guy got a free pass from the media as he and his "boss" shredded our Constitution, but now we just HAVE to have him on our show to see what he thinks of Obama?! Money quote: "I love him" in reference to Rush Limbaugh. He thinks Obama--the President of the United States--should debate Rush Limbaugh on a televised show. What?!! The President of the fucking United States of America should take the time from trying to have us not slide into a fucking Depression--to go at it with a drug-addicted, maritally-challenged, joke of a radio host? Clearly, this is a man whose opinion should be the least interesting thing to our country right now, since we're kind of busy cleaning up the mess he and his "boss" left behind. I believe that history will show (if it doesn't already) that the damage done to our nation by the Bush Administration is of a kind unprecedented in American history. Dick Cheney should be unbookable on any show. Except for Rush Limbaugh's.

Finally, on a lighter note, cheer up, Dear Hearts! As bad as things seem, we can now all look forward to the new MacGyver feature film! I don't know about you, but I already feel better.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bombs, Babies and A Couple of Bums

We're watching Generation Kill, an HBO miniseries now on netflix. Written by the guys who brought us The Wire, GK follows the exploits of United States Marine Corps' 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during 2003. It is based on the book by an embedded reporter, Evan Wright. A pretty accurate view of the boredom and constant mission changes of the first phase of the war effort. Definitely worth a look.

Next up, we have some sad news from Alaska, as we learn that Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have called off their engagement. The source is Alan Colmes' Liberaland blog, which got it from Star Magazine. So take it with a grain. But I think we were all watchin' the clock on that one, weren't we, kids?

Here are results of a poll showing how Limbaugh is out of step with the majority of Republican voters. He's still huge among the very conservative, but viewed as harmful among independents, younger voters and moderate Republicans.

And, finally, for tonight: apparently a "scientific" study has deemed Kylie Minogue's the Best Bum In The World. Read on for all manner of formulas assessing "sphericality" and the like. Then do your own measurements at home to see how you compare!

In Which I Attempt to Not Speak Out of My A**

Here's the deal: I can't really blog about anything political because I haven't really had the time to read, dissect, understand and synthesize it. I've obviously had the time to use a thesaurus, though. So no talking out my ass until I have some ability to defend what I'm saying. Unlike our friend Rush:

I can tell you that I'm registering Bambina for kindergarten today. It's one of those assessment things, where she goes with someone "to play" so they can see that she is a freakin' star! While I fill out paperwork. She is so ready to get to kindergarten. At least she thinks she is. Me? Sometimes I'm not so sure I'm ready for her to go. Other times, I feel like it can't get here soon enough for my liking. It's just one more of those milestones in life that you can't believe has arrived so soon.

Speaking of milestones, yesterday was our 4th Happy Adoption Day. We call it that because Bambina wants to call it that. She hates Gotcha Day because "I didn't get got!" So we went out to eat, got an ice cream cake, and decorated the house with Happy Adoption Day banners and stars. It helped that yesterday was also Purim, so the festivities just did not end till late into the night (by which I mean, for her, 8pm). The funny aspect of Happy Adoption Day is that she always picks St. Patrick's Day decorations for it, since they are always around on March 10th. So her Happy Adoption Day cake was white and green with shamrocks, and we both had on our springy shamrock headband thingies. She LOVED it! So did I.

In other news, I now donate blood on a monthly basis. After so many years of transfusions, I am iron-overloaded. Untreated, this can cause organ failure and other dire situations. The treatment options are as follows:

1. Exjade. Pills that make you excrete the iron. Can cause blindness and deafness.
2. Desferal. Subcutaneous infusion-daily--for 12 hours. Can cause blindness, deafness and dizziness.
3. Bloodletting. Donate a pint of blood (which is then thrown away) every month for about a year.

DUH! That's a no-brainer!! The issue is that I have to gain 3 pounds before March 23rd, my next appointment. I was 110 with clothes and a cast, so the lady was giving me the hairy eyeball and about to send me home. (As evidence that the trauma of being a fat kid stays with you your whole life, when the nurse responded, "I don't believe you; get on the scale" to my assertion that I was "about 113," I thought she was saying I was heavier than that! Nice.) Anyway, I CANNOT deal with another drug. So the weight must go on. Difficulty level: I have massive coronary-mimicking acid reflux from the pills, so eating has become a chore. Add that I still cannot eat fatty food or dairy because of the GVH, and you can see how I'm struggling to find calories. 1,000 extra pretzels a day? Kill me now.

With that, Bambina has awoken and I must dash. With any luck I'll have an opinion or two on Chas Freeman, the budget, Rush Limbaugh (oh wait, I already have an opinion on that) and John McCain's attempt to out-Newt Newt. Old and cranky is as old and cranky does.

Monday, March 09, 2009

And We're Off!

Cast is off! I'm wearing a splint because it still kind of hurts and has no muscle tone, but I can finally shower without burning through our supply of saran wrap. Now I can blog again!

That said, I have nothing to blog about, except this:

Seriously fun time waster. Enjoy! My favorite? What I call Jean-Claude Van Damme Meets Abe Lincoln~

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


The cast comes off Friday--and that means more blogging, darlings! I can't wait. I can't wait because I long to shower two-handed, hold a brush and hair dryer at the same time, open a jar of peanut butter without the help of my 4 year-old, and most importantly be free of this now-horrifyingly gross germ carrier that prevents the proper washing of hands. Three Days To Go. I haven't been this excited since my Bush Countdown Clock!

In other goings-on, I've decided that I judge people on Facebook by their status messages. Yep. I'm a jerk. I like funny ones, descriptive ones, interesting ones, ones that tell me how the updater is feeling. I despise status messages like the following:

E is at the post office
E is making a sandwich
E is.
E is getting coffee

I'm sorry, but who TF cares!?? Tell me something I don't know. Tell me you're getting coffee because you need a PM buzz. Tell me you're at the PO sending a letter to your Grandma in Flatbush. Tell me you are making the most boring sandwich ever but you don't care. Just tell me something besides the facts. Or else I think less of you. ;)

On that note, an FB friend asked me in an email if I'm "different since the transplant." I first gave a blow-off answer like, "well, I'm a bit kinder and less judgmental, but I also have less patience for complainers...." Here's the real answer:

I blew off your "are you different since the transplant" question. Or, I sort of half-answered it in an inarticulate way. The truth is, I am different in ways I don't even know yet, and the same in what I hope are better ways. Not sure if that makes more or less sense than what I said yesterday. But that's what I've got at this point. Maybe it will all be clearer when it's really all over, ie, I'm not on meds that make me feel like crap daily, I don't have to go to the ER for a fever, I'm not afraid of people sneezing on my hair at a kiddie show. Until then, I think that's the best answer I can give, nebulous though it may be. But thanks for asking, really. Most people just want to know if I found religion or something else tangible or easily characterized. But how do you boil down into one aphorism: I was sick for a while, I almost died one very scary night, I got a transplant with days left on my clock, I lived the first day, I lived the second day, I lived until I stopped counting it in days, I lived until I could go to school with my child again, I lived until I stopped counting it in months, I keep on living....I don't know if that makes me a better person or whether it just makes me healed in the broken places and therefore more aware of the broken places in other people. I think I'll have an answer in a few years. When I stop counting how long I've lived in years since May 2007.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rick Santelli: Man of the (Rich) People

That's an article in Playboy (I swear I only go there for the articles!) about the curious connections between CNBC's Rick Santelli and various right-wing faux grassroots organizations. It also discusses those groups' links to the multibillionaire Koch family:

What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called “astroturfing”) to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that's because it was.

See? If you can get Joe Sixpack to think your multibillionaire interests are his interests, you can spark a "movement." With websites that were pre-registered months ago, PR specialists who have scrubbed their contacts with you from their websites, and a willing media that asks no questions. Scary that it took guys with experience in RUSSIAN POLITICS to uncover this in America.