Friday, June 29, 2007

Very long overdue Friday lit. blogging

It's shameful how I've neglected to do Friday literature posts over the last several months. It's just been so hard to keep blogging in the first place. But now seemed like a good time to revisit Virginia Woolf's underappreciated Three Guineas. I chose this piece for today because of its timeliness, given the continuing depressing news from Iraq.

It's also interesting to note that even in a non-fiction piece like this, Woolf can't resist returning to one of her favorite topics: memory. To Woolf, there is no escaping the past. It infuses everything we do, every decision we make, and even, as in this passage, our visceral, immediate reactions to current events. In many ways this emphasis on memory is the overarching theme of all Woolf's works, from To the Lighthouse to Mrs. Dalloway to my sentimental favorite, the towering, epically moving Orlando.

I think if Woolf were alive today, she'd be shocked at our continuing inability to learn that blowing up civilians never solves anything.

Here then on the table before us are photographs. The Spanish Government sends them with patient pertinacity about twice a week. They are not pleasant photographs to look upon. They are photographs of dead bodies for the most part. This morning’s collection contains the photograph of what might be a man’s body, or a woman’s; it is so mutilated that it might, on the other hand, be the body of a pig. But those certainly are dead children, and that undoubtedly is the section of a house. A bomb has torn open the side; there is still a birdcage hanging in what was presumably the sitting-room, but the rest of the house looks like nothing so much as a bunch of spillikins suspended in mid air.

Those photographs are not an argument; they are simply a crude statement of fact addressed to the eye. But the eye is connected with the brain; the brain with the nervous system. That system sends its messages in a flash through every past memory and present feeling. When we look at those photographs some fusion takes place within us; however different the education, the traditions behind us, our sensations are the same; and they are violent. You, Sir, call them ‘horror and disgust’. We also call them horror and disgust. And the same words rise to our lips. War, you say, is an abomination; a barbarity; war must be stopped at whatever cost. And we echo your words. War is an abomination; a barbarity; war must be stopped. For now at last we are looking at the same picture; we are seeing with you the same dead bodies, the same ruined houses.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A warning from Massachusetts

Do not elect this psychopath to the presidency. He's nuts.

That is all.

Toddler yoga

I just need to point out that the Peanut's new day care/pre-school offers toddler yoga classes. She went for the first time today and apparently loved it. Meanwhile I've been meaning to get back to yoga for ages now (like, oh, say, since I gave birth) but I never have the time!

I wonder if this means that I have to buy her a snazzy workout outfit and her own personal yoga mat?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sugar and spice

Scene: the Peanut's room, the other morning, as I tried to brush her teeth (an activity roughly equivalent to wrestling an eel):

Me: Will you stop wriggling and let me brush your teeth already! We do this every day -- why do you keep fighting me?

The Peanut, just before fighting me off and sprinting out of the room: I'm getting out of here, you old lady!

I bet the teenage years are going to be awesome.

This is a family blog

So I am NOT going to insinuate that Chris Matthews is a #$&!-sucking right-wing whore who richly deserves to spend eternity roasting on a spit in his own personal hell, which I imagine would feature lots and lots of women with powerful, high-paying jobs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy birthday wishes

Couldn't let today go by without a happy birthday shout-out to Hausfrau, my very non-matronly matron of honor!

Here you'll see George Clooney popping by to do a special birthday post on the Hausfrau blog. If I had to pick a former ER star to do mine, I think I'd go with the guy who played Dr. Kovac.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"I've seen Parsippany..."

First, Fountains of Wayne, now this: seems like my old northern New Jersey stomping grounds have been immortalized in song once again. I had just pulled into the parking lot of the Trader Joe's before when this song by a guy named Steve Forbert came on the radio, and I had to sit there, astonished, and listen to the whole thing. It's called "Strange Names (North Jersey's Got 'Em)."

I am from Piscataway
I'm going that-a-way
West on the Jersey map
Out towards the water gap
I've seen Parsippany
Northwest of Whippany
Mahwah to Hackensack
I've made the trip and back
Kudos to Steve for working in Piscataway, Parsippany, Netcong, Rockaway, Whippany, and Hackensack. Oh, and the Water Gap.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Overheard on Father's Day

"Why is Mommy cooking?"

(Dad usually handles meals, but I thought it would be nice to make dinner for Mr. Fraulein on Father's Day.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nothing phallic about this. Nope. Not at all.

Jesus, these Republicans have issues. This guy needs to get some help, like, yesterday.

Romney Says He Wants 'Big Stick'

- - - - - - - - - - - -

By AMY LORENTZEN Associated Press Writer

June 16,2007 DUBUQUE, Iowa --

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Saturday that if he's elected, he wants "to carry the big stick" by increasing the size of the nation's military.

The former Massachusetts governor said his plans include boosting the size of the military by at least 100,000 troops and increasing the military budget.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Expecto Patronum

I'm working my way through the Potter books again, as I've mentioned. I'm up to "Prisoner of Azkaban" now. Just finished the bit where Lupin teaches Harry the Patronus charm to ward off the Dementors.

And once again I'm amazed by how expertly Rowling has captured what I believe many of us will think back on as the particular fear-laden spirit of the post-9-11 age. We're living in our little bubble of prosperity, while all around us things fall apart and we face challenges that, realistically, may be all but impossible to overcome.

Even as you try to keep these huge horrors at the periphery of your mind, smaller but equally devastating ones work their way in. Yesterday I got an e-mail from an old friend with a picture of her nephew, who's almost a year old and who wasn't supposed to live more than a few days because something is wrong with his heart. It's the same heart problem that killed this same friend's niece many years ago. That girl, who shared the Peanut's first name, would have been 15 this year.

I look into the eyes of this almost-one-year-old, whose very existence is apparently a miracle, and I think: Expecto Patronum. Because it occurs to me that at this moment, all we've got to go on is hope.

UPDATE: I've decided I should explain what 'Expecto Patronum' is for any of my 1.3 readers who have not read the Harry Potter novels. It's a spell that conjures a Patronus, which is a sort of guardian that protects the witches and wizards of the Potter world against creatures called Dementors who suck all the happiness out of people, leaving them nothing but empty shells. Conjuring the Patronus is extremely difficult to do, and Harry does it at several points in "Prisoner of Azkaban" when it seems that all hope is truly lost.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Things the Peanut wonders about

"Can dogs talk?"

"Can grown-ups touch the ceiling?"

(In reference to every pedestrian we see when we're out in the car): "Where is that lady going? What's her name? Is she a mommy? What is that man's name?"

(In reference to every kid we see at the playground): "Does that girl have big-girl underwear? Can she pump (her legs) on the swing?"

(When told that maybe there will be a kiddie pool at grandma and grandpa's house): "Will it have sharks in it?"

Monday, June 11, 2007

This has happened more than once

...but it still makes me stop and catch my breath. Every so often I'll be walking down the street in my neighborhood and I'll see a tall, confident, bubbly young woman who is the very image of my late friend Bevin. When I saw this woman yesterday, she was walking her dog--a big, shaggy, slobbery dog.

And she was smiling.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Cenk Uygur speaks for me

Most forceful progressive voice on Air America at the moment. He also posts on Huffington Post. His latest piece is characteristically on target.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No good and evil, only power

I've been re-reading the first Harry Potter book, "Sorcerer's Stone," and I was struck anew by how well Quirrell's standout line at the end (about what he learned from Voldemort) reflects what's happened to the Republican party under Bush.

"There is no good and evil, only power, and those too weak to seek it."

That sums these people up in a nutshell. Vote suppression? Disappearing people? But of course!