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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

SCHOLASTIC TREMORS 

The seven year old is all aquiver about the start of school tomorrow. She got to go in to meet her teacher today, scoring a private viewing as we were out of town for the official open house last week.

It was like getting to see a rock star. She might have asked for the teacher's autograph if she weren't so painfully shy. I was relieved that the meeting seemed to have alleviated all her apprehensions and dared to hope for a cheerful evening. However, after enduring the fortieth rendition of "I just can't wait until tomorrow" (each time, with slight changes to the intonation, making it clear that this was not just a figure of speech--there was grave doubt that she would be able to survive to see the dawn), I am less sure the interview was the boon it first appeared to be.

Have I mentioned she has an unholy respect for authority? Luckily, or unluckily, the three year old balances her out.

UPDATE: She's been circling the living room wearing her backpack for half an hour now. The bus is not due for another half hour. I fear disappointment is sure to follow. How can the day possibly live up to her expectations?

TOFU DREAMS 

I second King's fried tofu rave. A word to the Minneapolis Wise: go visit Rice Paper.

Monday, August 30, 2004

MOLLY THE INSULT DOG 

I just returned from my annual visit to Kerryland. The Warrior Monk (yes! he was there too! what a coincidence!) was most intrigued by the fact that there were barely any Kerry/Edwards paraphernalia to be seen. No lawn signs and only 2 bumper stickers: one on a car with Maryland plates and the other on one of my hosts' cars.

So you won't be shocked to hear that everyone tried to avoid political conversation.

With one exception: the tale of "foul play behind closed doors - of pets, lies and videotape." The poop-slinging between two Connecticut State Senators has bipartisan appeal, it seemed. Nasty and disgusting accusations filled the air--then a surveillance video surfaced and one party had to apologize.

The still from the video captured me. Nothing amuses me more than dogs behaving badly and the photo showed a little fluffmeister named "Molly" (fittingly, a shih tzu) skulking down a corridor in a manner that spoke eloquently of her guilt. The creature belonged to the Senator who had initially denied all possibility that such a, well, pile, could have be created by her darling (and instead reportedly blamed a seeing-eye dog belonging to a worker in her rival's office). Couldn't be a more perfect scenario. Then the perfect ending: Security video. Doggy shame. Shock and contrition.

The detail that the now apologetic Senator is a Democrat and the accuser (and, presumably, the wrongly-accused seeing-eye dog-owner) a Republican, was not discussed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

AND BOY DO WE NEED IT 

Spitbull is vacating. See you in September, more or less.

Here's what we'll be missing:
Spitbull: we have a talent for missing the boat.

GALLO'S GALL 

A Republican actor/director/writer! (Hat tip: Twisted Spinster, who is starting a collection):

I know you are fond of our president.

I relate to him in that he has become easily unlikable. In a perfect world, John Kerry would own a restaurant in Connecticut.

And Teresa?

It just makes you wonder how the money ends up in certain places.

Have you met Bush?

I've met his daughter, Barbara. Zac Posen, the designer, invited me to his show and said he would seat me next to the Bush girl because I'm a Republican.

Why are you a Republican?

If we were going to see a show of Dennis Hopper's photographs, do you think Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton would be more sensitive to the work? I see Nixon as an intellectual. I consider Bill Clinton a huckster.

There are so few right-wing actors like yourself, now that the generation of John Wayne has died off.

I agree with you. It is not an interesting group. But I would rather have dinner with Newt or Dick Armey than with Bruce Springsteen.

Perhaps you can speak at the Republican convention.

I would like to. They haven't invited me yet.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

CRYBABY NO. 2 

Women's basketball is usually a topic for Fraterslibertas (it seems to aid their eternal and frequently successful quest to generate hate mail). But today's Strib article was in the Variety, not Sports section, so they probably missed it.

I didn't. The plotline was advertised as players who are also mothers of small kids. Seems like a tough combo (of some interest to me as a mom who holds down a job, admittedly a sedentary one, but I've got blog duties too!) so I ran my eyes down the page (the accompanying photo of the cute toddler didn't hurt my interest either).

And stopped at only the fourth paragraph:
In a few days, Brian [the player's husband] will fly back to their hometown of Detroit with the baby, and Stacey's eyes will well up with tears even talking about it.
Why oh why does this idiot newspaper always have to portray its story protagonists as vestibules of tears? The weepers are frequently professional women (no, it wouldn't make me feel better if they were men) and we're told they cry at the drop of a hat (crybaby no. 1 is a veterinarian; yes, I've suddenly become enamored of numbering my themes).

The fault is probably an untalented writer who can't convey that a situation is sad (maybe because it isn't, or at least isn't very) without cueing the schmaltzy swelling strings. She cried dammit! You should cry too! Or maybe a ham-handed editor screaming "we need drama, more DRAMA!"

Or maybe it's a sinister plot to prove that these highfalutin' career women are really little girlie-girls when you look past the flashy exterior. Yep, the paper's whole lefty bias thing could just be a clever cover ...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

DUMB LEFTY PERSUASION TACTIC NO. III 

It's not just a joke, it's a trend! Not only are some donkey women attempting to trade sex acts for converting R votes to D votes (dumb tactic no. I) but there's a group of rabble-rousing feminists and anti-war activists who had the bright idea of flashing their undies as a form of political dissent. They call themselves the Axis of Eve and their mission is "to EXPOSE and DEPOSE President Select George W. Bush and his deceitful administration."

They're probably right on one score: "We think Kerry needs a little help in the sex-appeal department."

(If you are keeping score, behold dumb tactic no. II.)

Friday, August 20, 2004

TWISTED TITLE #38 

This week's incorrect children's title:
Increasing Your Vocabulary By Hanging Out With the Janitor
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

HOW TO FRIGHTEN AN OBOIST 

Continuing the fashion theme cracked open yesterday...

There's a new arts blog (credit: 2Blowhards) that discusses not only all the books I haven't gotten to and the art I haven't seen but also accessible topics such as proper concert dress for musicians and audiences. Now almost everyone has gone to some kind of concert at least once, although maybe not a professional performance. I myself have been to scads of amateur outings but only two professional performances, the most recent cleverly timed to insult Twin Cities bloggers generally and the NARN crew in particular.

I was relieved to be told that there's merit in not dressing way up for performances. Indeed, from the point of view of the musician
the sight of row after row of blokes in black tie (and their wives in what passes for evening wear in most of Britain) threw me considerably. It’s a lot more intimidating to play facing this lot than it is to a ‘normal’ audience. On the other hand, I think that if they’d all arrived fresh from the theme park in sweaty tee-shirts and muddy trainers, we’d have felt faintly insulted.
Phew! I had planned to wear sequins to the symphony but changed my mind at the last minute. But I feel moved to point out that it is impossible to be overdressed for a musical exposition if it has a yule theme and the performers are children. Trust me on this. I speak from experience.

Hey Atomizer! Is your wedding going to be Dress: intimidation or Dress: insulting?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

ECCE FASHIONISTO 

Lileks has become a fashion critic! Maybe he'll rejuvenate the genre, historically the bastion of a special sort of eyes-glaze-over writing style. He's now revealed himself to be one of the few who have actually read the copy of a fashion spread. And yes, it does need rewriting: strike the "appeal of retro with modern styling is the newest look for fall" and replace it with an "act of unforgiveable mulletry."

And the pictures! Marshall Fields, formerly Dayton's, has never been exciting clothes-wise. Sort of dowdy, in fact. But it looks like they're going a little too far to the ugly side in their attempt shake things up. Here's something retro that's a little more to my taste:


Hmmm. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

READY OR NOT HERE I COME! 

It's probably my imagination but I think August evening air affects how things sound. The night crickets have started up and the kids' voices outside have an aura usually leant by nostalgia. I feel like I'm remembering things rather than experiencing them.

The neighborhood kids, and my own kids, have finally gotten old enough that they all play in everyone's yards every night. A raucous game of hide and go seek sounds wonderful to my aged ears.

There are enough little brothers and sisters to pick on now, which adds a new dimension to the fun. Last night my eldest and the girl next door created some athletic event they claimed was a "relay" race. As far as I could tell, it involved no passing of a baton, or anything else for that matter, and the rules were ad hoc at best. The little kids seemed to be the only competitors and their older siblings urged them to "Go! Go! Faster!" until my three year old stepped on a rock and started wailing. Game over.

But it sounded great until then. It'll probably be an Olympic sport someday. Everything else is.

Monday, August 16, 2004

LEFT OF THE DIAL 

Yesterday's Star Tribune saw columnist Doug Grow take "insatiable" Minnesota Public Radio to task for "snap[ping] up" WCAL, the classical music station at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Grow is constitutionally incapable of approaching a story from any angle other than big-bad-villain-terrorizes-helpless-victim, so he begins by gamely laying his trusty template over this story, aided by the headline writer, who renames MPR as "Mega Public Radio" (such wit!) and adjectivizes WCAL with a condescending "little."

Problem is, Grow's (extra-large, perpetually bleeding) heart just isn't in it. Halfway through he introduces a "disclaimer" that "MPR is as good as public radio gets." More significantly, he admits that "MPR didn't act alone in this deal."

Could it be . . . a voluntary transaction between two consenting parties? Do tell, Doug!
St. Olaf College was a co-conspirator, willing to sell away tradition, an audience and a staff for $10.1 million, which will be added to the school's already bulging endowment.
Grow can't take his sugar without a little medicine to wash it down, so he has to load up that sentence with ominous overtones, but it's hard even for him to avoid the conclusion that both MPR and St. Olaf are pleased with the situation. And here's a more objective characterization of the sale, from the Strib's original news story back on August 11:
St. Olaf was approached by MPR and the sale made sense, said Jan McDaniel, vice president for college relations. "WCAL is just a jewel, but when we asked what it's doing for the students today and in the future, that answer came up empty in all aspects of the operation."

The proceeds will be added to St. Olaf's current $185 million endowment, allowing the college to invest more in academic programs.
But what about WCAL's audience? Who will speak for them?

Well, I've been a frequent listener (and occasional contributor) for many years, so I'll give it a go. Much as I enjoy hearing Bill Morelock play Shostakovich symphonies and Glenn Gould on my way home from work, I can't fault St. Olaf for concluding that the $10.1 million of their capital that allows my daily commute to be a little more enjoyable--a commute 40 miles away from Northfield in a car equipped with a CD player, mind you--would be better spent on their students.

I'm such a selfish bastard, aren't I?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

LAWN SIGNS ON THE INTERNET 

Apparently the information superhighway meanders through a lot of little neighborhoods. And like many neighborhoods this year, that means a lot of folks are declaring their support for or antagonism to the presidential candidates. A lot of folks:
  • There are Catholics for and against Kerry. Also Catholics for Bush--I couldn't find any Catholics against him, but I did find some Christians. There are Muslims for Kerry and for Bush. The secular Americans are against Bush.
  • The veterans are for and against Kerry (also for Bush; no vet sites seem to be against him). POW/MIA family members are against Kerry.
  • Kids and teens and their moms are for Kerry. There are also kids against Bush, and teens kind of for him (they haven't updated the weblog for quite a while, slackers that they are). Dads seem not to go for Internet lawn signs of their own.
  • The concerts are for Kerry and the bands against Bush. (There are some songs for Bush but, like the teen site, it hasn't been updated recently. Is there a connection?)
  • Therea are Republicans for Kerry (and against Bush) and Democrats for Bush. But the Independents are for both Bush and Kerry (how independent of them). The Greens are for Kerry (take that Nader!).
  • There are blogs for Bush but bloggers are against him. The warbloggers are definitely against Kerry.
  • Runners are for Bush, climbers are for Kerry.
  • Librarians are for and against Bush (shhh!); babes too are for and against Bush (no word from the librarian babes) .
  • Women (the non-babes, maybe) declare they're against Bush, the cunts agree (make your own jokes here).
I don't know what I've learned from this, other than that the Internet can be kooky. But then, I already knew that.

Friday, August 13, 2004

TWISTED TITLE #37 

This week's incorrect children's title:
Joe Camel's Guide to Staying Slim and Looking Cool
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

THE MONK IS RIGHT 

It does sound most intriguing. Innovation does not come often (nor should it come often) to the arcane art of mixing drinks, especially this nexus of mystique and simplicity. In fact, it may violate Rule no. 65. But we'll have to look into this one further. Who says we're not open minded?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

ATOMIZER, CHECK THIS OUT! 

Brilliant! Absofuckinglutely brilliant!

PHONE FOLLIES 

My kids have begun to take an interest in the telephone in recent months--I mean beyond starting a whining campaign when they notice that I'm talking into it. The three year old "answered" it once--that is, she picked it up when it rang and then breathed into the receiver for a few minutes. Luckily, the caller figured it out and told her to come get me, which she did. The seven year old has started placing calls herself.

Actually, it's become a fad. All the kids in the neighborhood--well, all the cool kids, the ones that aren't babies (literally)--have become enamored of the telephone. Nobody knows anything about phone etiquette, of course. You'll answer the phone and a high pitched voice will demand "who's this?" They never identify themselves unless asked, and boy do I need to ask. They all sound the same to me, boys and girls alike. My seven year old just called from the neighbor's and I had to ask her to tell me who she was.

It could be just me. Mommy lore says that mommies always can pick out their babies' cries from the crowd. Not me. Any creature that made noise at the pitch of a baby's cry was my baby. Countless times I startled awake, certain that the baby was wailing, only to figure out that a neighborhood dog was the culprit. Daddies don't seem to have this problem, or maybe they're just better at sound identification.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

NOW THAT'S CONVINCING ... 

Yesterday a pro-Kerry hacker replaced the cover of the book Unfit For Command

original cover Posted by Hello

with this:

Hacked cover Posted by Hello on the Barnes & Noble website (details at Human Events)

Hugh Hewitt complains that the left-hand side of the Blogosphere has been eerily silent about the xmas in Cambodia firestorm prompted by Drudge's pre-publication leaking of claims from the book. Well, I guess someone finally broke the silence. But this is more like a middle-finger than an explanation.

UPDATE: It was likely not a hack but an inside job. An overly helpful bookstore employee who felt a picture would be more persuasive than a long-winded explanation of why the Cambodia story is not the searing words of a political braggart.

Monday, August 09, 2004

WHAT WAS THAT!??!?! 

There's now proof that it's a good idea to ask someone of the XY gender for reassurance when I'm alarmed by things that go bump in the night. Plus, they're sometimes useful with the vermin.

But when it comes time to notice that we're almost out of coffee or toilet paper, I'm on my own.

UNO, DOS, ONE, TWO, TRES, QUATRO 

Dear St. Paul,

Uno. Irv. Oooh. Bec.

Your most humble and obedient servant,

The Warrior Monk

Saturday, August 07, 2004

"SCAPEGOATING" MAY SOMETIMES BE UNJUST, BUT "SCAPESPIDERING" IS ALWAYS FAIR 

I am not persuaded by Lancet's recent Viewpoint scolding me because I fall for the unjust scapegoating of spiders as medical threats. It's not the disease threat I recoil from, it's the extra legs. Any creature with more than four legs deserves to be viewed with suspicion.

One of the great benefits of boyfriends/husbands is that one no longer has to deal with a bug issue by screaming one's best blood-curdling scream and hoping that the creature takes the hint and scrams. Instead, one sweetly informs the guy "there's a spider in the bathtub" and lets nature take its course. Luckily, all the guys I've known seem to have had no problem with bug-disposal duties. The Warrior Monk cheerfully takes on squirrels as well, but feels that bats deserve a reward.

The woman who recently broke her leg trying to avoid a "tiny spider" in her garden? I sympathize with the anti-leg sentiment, but I'd like to think that even I would have had the courage to direct it to one of the spider's eight, rather than one of my own two.

Friday, August 06, 2004

TWISTED TITLE #36 

This week's incorrect children's title:
101 Games to Play With Grandpa's Dentures
To see last week's title, click here.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

NO SEX BUT LOOSER STOOLS 

Nicholas Kristof brings news of a reinterpretation of the Koran to our shores (The Guardian told Britain back in 2002, the Germans found out a year earlier when the book was first published and the Blogosphere probably knew back in oh, 1995 or so): those virgins Muslim "martyrs" think they're getting in heaven? Mistranslation. They're really raisins. But white raisins. That makes it special, doesn't it?

Yes it's old news to many, but not to Times readers (Pulitzer? Pulitzer?) and not to many martyr wannabes.

But my favorite explanation of what martyrs really get upon departing this earth remains the Onion's classic report "Hijackers Suprised to Find Selves In Hell":
I was promised I would spend eternity in Paradise, being fed honeyed cakes by 67 virgins in a tree-lined garden, if only I would fly the airplane into one of the Twin Towers," said Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11, between attempts to vomit up the wasps, hornets, and live coals infesting his stomach. "But instead, I am fed the boiling feces of traitors by malicious, laughing Ifrit. Is this to be my reward for destroying the enemies of my faith?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

YEP, ALL THE KIDS HERE ARE ABOVE AVERAGE 

Our block had a party last night, along with 760 other blocks in the Twin Cities.

There were awards for all the kids--little ribbons. The seven year old got "Best Artist" which, since she takes her drawing very seriously, at least bore some semblance to reality. The napless three year old really should have scored "Best Monster" but they didn't have that one on hand. Instead she was given "#1 Kid," a nice meaningless catch-all slogan. But she acted as though she had just been annointed MVP. She bellowed "NUMBER ONE KID!!!!" fifteen or so times when she got home.

Of course, we used it. "Number One Kids always brush their teeth before bedtime." "If you keep screaming like that, you won't be the number one kid any more."

It kind of worked, but not well enough for me to stock up on those ribbons.

NOW'S HERE'S A WORTHWHILE WEB QUIZ 

Psychoanalyzing fans of the Strokes (credit: No Rock and Roll Fun). I don't do quizzes but perhaps others (W. Monk, I'm talking to you) might be interested.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

LET'S VOTE! 

Some silly summer let's-pretend Presidential voting:
  • Family Circle's Cookie Cook-Off: Laura Bush's Oatmeal-Chocolate Chunk cookies versus Teresa Heinz Kerry's Pumpkin Spice cookies.
  • Bobblelection 2004: baseball fans in seven states got to pick which free bobblehead candidate they wanted.
The cookie contest ended August 1; results will be announced in the November issue. Although Family Circle claims tasters have been evenly divided between the cookies, Heinz Kerry recently disavowed "her" recipe:
Somebody at my office gave that recipe out and, in fact, I think somebody really made it on purpose to give a nasty recipe. I never made pumpkin cookies; I don't like pumpkin spice cookies.
Probaby not a good quote from the camp that's trying to disavow the flip-flopping meme.

Bush won the Bobblelection four states to three (Kerry edged out Bush in Minnesota: 51-49%). On the open market, the Kerry doll is more expensive than Bush so voters should have picked him as the freebie. That is, assuming they act rationally.

Monday, August 02, 2004

RIGHTIES: THEY DO IT WITH MIRRORS 

Editor of the left-leaning cultural magazine The Baffler and author of "What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" has finally figured out why the left wing has been losing: voters are easily tricked.

Another in the venerable tradition of more-enlightened-voters-would-think-like-me-ism.

TELLING SLEAZY TALES 

As someone who never reads campaign fliers anyway (they go in the trash, along with real estate agent pleas to sell my house, or have me buy a new one), I am baffled by why local Democratic state representative Phyllis Kahn bothered to steal Republican brochures (Reg. Req. or BugMeNot). Embarrassingly, she was caught red-handed and had to aplogize:
Kahn wrote to [the Republican House member] offering "apologies for picking up a few of your lit pieces." Kahn added that she was "interested in seeing what you were saying. I'm sure it will have little effect on your campaign, but I know it was wrong and I am sorry."
She must have been quite interested as, when stopped, she was found to have three pieces of campaign literature in her car and five with her. (Remarkably, her husband's explanation for the whole affair was that the "Police Department seems to be interested in publicity.")

I assumed this petty theft was a News of the Weird-style aberration until the next day, when an old Democratic Happy Warrior felt moved to write an article bemoaning the good old days of:
distributing campaign literature for a Don Quixote-type challenger of an entrenched state senator, fighting the good fight, gently toeing the opponent's fliers, inadvertently of course, off the doorsteps into the arborvitae or under the doormats ...
He recounts later meeting up with a Republican House incumbent who suggested that they all save time by splitting up the neighborhood and each distributing both parties' lit. He proudly rejected the offer of bipartisan cooperation, with the old one-two: (1) a clever lie: "[w]e'd drop your literature along with ours"; (2) followed by an unsupported accusation: "but as soon as we're around the corner, you'd take our stuff over to the lake and feed the carp."

And how does he view this incident today? No, there's no shame at his youthful sleaziness, only regret he's too lazy to continue the game today:
We lived on the edge once, and it was a glorious time. And now we pretty much watch from the sidelines and maybe write a check once in a while or sign a petition ... except for Earl. He's still out there in the early evening, fist full of passion and truth, walking for the cause.
And I thought the Democrats are trying to make values an issue in this election ... but presumably not in the Republicans' favor. Oh well.