Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My sorrows, they learned to swim

I hate this time of year. It gets dark so early, and my ghosts get restless.

(With apologies to U2).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Things that make me laugh

I got an e-mail from a longtime friend, somebody I dated a million years ago, in which he addressed me as "lass." With the countdown to the First Anniversary of my 39th Birthday now at T-minus 10 days, this gave me a giggle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughts on WALL-E


I have decided that if WALL-E isn't at least nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, then Pixar will have gotten totally robbed. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association apparently agrees that the little robot that could deserves some high-profile recognition: they've named WALL-E their best picture of the year.
I think computer animated films overall have been woefully underrepresented at the Oscars. From a layperson's standpoint, I think the "wow factor" comes into play here -- how do they make it all look so real? How it is possible to give such an emotional depth and range to something like a robot? Pixar deserves an Oscar for that alone. And not only that, but for the superiority of the storytelling over most conventional films. I totally prefer a movie like The Incredibles over most mass-produced Hollywood crap.
Also, I think WALL-E resonates so much because the way things are going, Pixar's haunting image of a future garbage-strewn earth looks awfully prescient. If we don't stop overproducing plastic crap that no one needs, the planet is screwed. And we probably won't have an "Axiom" spaceship to fly off on.
Regardless of what you think of the movie's message about conservation, the love story, with its underlying message of hope about the power of human (and, uh, non-human) connections is an unequivocal home run. We've been through the DVD a dozen times in the last couple of weeks and I still can't get through it without sobbing. WALL-E and Eve are among the great big screen couples. Can anyone think of another movie with so little dialogue that still manages to be so moving?
So, long shot though it may be, I'm rooting for a Best Picture Oscar for WALL-E come next year. I can't think of a more deserving film.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I recommend this post from Bob Cesca

...(to be found here) for the Galaxy Quest reference alone.

Goddamn awesome indeed!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Like a Nobel Prize and an Oscar rolled into one

The Peanut, last night as I tucked her into bed: "You are the best mommy of all the mommies."

I could ask for no higher praise than that!

Sorry for light posting lately; work has been insane. New blogging inspiration to come shortly...stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New "Half-Blood Prince" trailer released

Just caught this on Huffington Post. Even though there were a couple of "Half-Blood Prince" trailers out there already, Warner Bros. has given us a new one two days before what was to have been the movie's release date. Now we have to wait until July to see the completed film, due to a bunch of behind-the-scenes studio maneuvering that I still don't entirely understand.

Couple of thoughts on this: "Half-Blood Prince" is my least favorite of the Harry Potter books, but I'm still incredibly excited about the movie. There's intense debate about the relative merits of the Potter movies but I love them all. Each one in its own way brings to light something that has enriched my subsequent readings of the novels. This is due in no small part to the near-miraculous casting of the once-child (now more or less adult!) actors who play the three key roles. Could Warner Bros. have found a more perfect Harry, Hermione and Ron? I can't imagine how.

So while it's enraging that Warner Bros. is making us wait until next summer for this one, I think the next couple of years of speculation on how they will pull off the final two-part blockbuster version of "Deathly Hallows" will be pretty fun to watch. The one thing I desperately hope they don't screw up in the final movie(s) is the "anteroom to the afterlife" scene where Harry speaks to the departed Dumbledore. That scene ranks right up there with the classic and incredibly moving "Mirror of Erised" chapter in the very first Potter novel, in my estimation.

If Virginia Woolf had written children's fantasy novels, she could have written that scene: heaven's entryway imagined as King's Cross station. Literary snob though she was, I expect she would approve of that.

(Here endeth the literary geekery.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The best lost wallet story ever

It even has a happy ending. Told as only Laid-Off Dad can tell it, read the story of an amazing adventure in mass transit craziness, the kindness of strangers, and an unlikely rescue in the shadow of the Henry Hudson Parkway. Plus the "CHUD-like gnome-wraiths several miles beneath the earth's crust" who apparently run New York's Mass Transit Authority. (Who knew?)

As I've said before, if there is such a thing as a blogger creative writing award, this guy is the lifetime all-star winner. Read part one of his adventure here, part two here, and the wrap-up here.

Newsweek asks: Is Obama the Antichrist?

I mean, of course it does. This is Newsweek we're talking about. I am not surprised in the least that they would publish a column with the headline "Is Obama the Antichrist?" Newsweek is a "news" publication in the same sense in which I am "The Queen of England." The people who run this tragedy of a publication desperately aspire to ascend to the level of assclownish hackery (hackish assclownery?) of, say, the New York Post or the Boston Herald.

So, yeah. This is what we can expect for the next four years. "Does Obama have cloven hooves and a tail?? Will he sell the country out to Al Qaeda??"

Fun times ahead...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Time once again for my favorite game

..."Imagine if (fill in the blank) happened to/was said by/was done by a Republican." (Or in this case, maybe what we need to imagine is: what would happen if the endemic racism in this country was targeted against whites, but the same rules apply.)

Just imagine, if you will, the shitstorm that would ensue if the newly-elected President whose election triggered this behavior was, say, an old, white Republican. Imagine if blacks across the country, responding to the election of said white Republican, erupted in an insane spasm of hateful, racist acts targeted against white people.

How long would it take for the blacks in question to wind up in prison?

How many of these crackers will end up in jail?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veteran's Day


(And yes, I realize this is a day late..) Here's my dad in Korea in 1953.

Thanks to all the veterans.

Open mouth, insert foot

Memo to Mark Foley (and all other Republican sex hypocrites, by the way): You should really stop talking. No more interviews. When you open your mouth, you make things worse:

Foley insists he did nothing illegal and never had sexual contact with teens, just inappropriate Internet conversations. Investigations by the FBI and Florida authorities ended without criminal charges.

And while he concedes his behavior was "extraordinarily stupid," he remains somewhat unwilling to accept full public scorn.

These were 17-year-olds, just months from being men, he insists.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Indescribably awesome


Our President-Elect, dropping his kids off at school this morning. How amazing is it that he's still taking the time to do this kind of thing, even when he's got just a few weeks left to get ready to assume the presidency? I love that he is unabashed about showing this kind of devotion to his family.
(Photo credit Huffingtonpost.com)

Friday, November 07, 2008

The very serious Washington Post

For the last year and a half all we've heard is how Barack Obama is the most left-wing person in U.S. politics -- a socialist hippie who wants to "redistribute wealth" by raising taxes to give more money to lazy undeserving poor people.

So what does Obama's landslide victory mean? The very serious Washington Post joins the very serious Newsweek in asserting that this victory for the crazy lefty hippie means that "America is still a center-right country."

You guys keep telling yourselves that. Maybe someday it will come true. Not anytime in the forseeable future, but maybe someday.

Four is awesome indeed


As Antique Mommy writes with her usual eloquence here, a four-year-old is a marvelous thing.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our liberal media

The stark reality reflected here notwithstanding, our liberal media will remain on hand to inform us at every opportunity that we're really a conservative country.

Hey, Newsweek: if you repeat a lie often enough, it doesn't come true. Watch this: "Sarah Palin is intelligent and competent! Sarah Palin is intelligent and competent!"

Nope, still not true. Screw you, Newsweek--and that goes for the rest of the corporate barbecue media too! The grown-ups are in charge now--deal with it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

They no longer speak for us

They don’t speak for us. The warmongers. The torture-lovers. The reverse Robin Hoods. The crooks and thieves and racists and liars. Those who would leave our own countrymen and women to die in the streets.

That’s what this election was about for me. Making it absolutely clear that we are done with having these people represent us in our government. Shouting from the rooftops that we are better than this, and that we will live up to our potential as a nation instead of letting ourselves down. Letting the world down. We can do better—we must do better—because this is America and America cannot fail.

We are America: all of us who made history by electing Barack Obama to the presidency. We are America whether we are black or white, Christian or Jewish or Muslim or atheist, straight or gay, young or old. Whether we live in big cities or suburbs or small towns, there are no fake Americans here.

But, that said, if anyone has been destroying the promise of America, it’s been the race-baiters and the warmongers and the neo-cons--those who would kill and pillage and steal using our tax dollars, in our names.

As Gary Kamiya wrote in Salon today:

The Obama triumph means the Reagan revolution is over. The anti-government, anti-tax, trickle-down, every-man-for-himself ethos collapsed with a whimper during the catastrophic presidency of George W. Bush, and Obama's election put it out of its misery. By electing Obama, the American people have emphatically rejected the selfishness, masquerading as freedom and rugged individualism, that has been the calling card of the American right wing since Barry Goldwater. In its place, they are calling not just for a new and expanded vision of government's role in American life but for a new vision of American society.
Let's hope that Obama's election will be the impetus for driving a stake through the heart of the wrongheaded conservative philosophy once and for all. YES WE CAN!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

More Sicilians in the 1960s, and a little Italian-Chinese-American in the 2000s



Continuing with these old photos from my cousin: here's my parents in 1965, four years before I was born. That's my mom in the light blue dress and my dad next to her in the dark blue shirt. Did the Peanut get the Sicilian chubby cheeks or what? (See her above at about age 1.)

One of the many, many things I am going to love about seeing Barack Obama sworn in as the next president of the United States is that someday, I can tell the Peanut that in a timespan of just a few decades, we went from interracial marriage being illegal in much of the country to a multiracial person just like her being elected president.

50 years



My parents' 50th wedding anniversary is coming up later this month, and I've been collecting old pictures of them from relatives scattered far and wide. I'm going to surprise them with a scrapbook. One crafty cousin of mine managed to scan in some ancient slides, so that I actually have a bunch of these pictures as .JPGs! Seen here are my dad in 1954 (holding the guitar in the second shot) and my mom and dad with my grandmother and a bunch of other relatives in 1958, the year of their marriage. They're the couple on the right side of the picture. My grandmother, the older lady in the middle of the first shot, is the Theresa of this post, which I've just updated to include a photo from my parents' wedding which shows my grandparents with all 10 of their children.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

McCain on SNL

There was that booing I had expected when Palin came on. Some people are saying he humanized himself somewhat, which I guess he did, but even joking that he's planning to play the "sad grandpa" card to get sympathy votes is pretty pathetic at this stage of the campaign. I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the guy.

Almost.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A public service announcement

One way or the other, on Nov. 5, I plan to be hungover. And I'm either going to be in a really, really great mood (if Obama wins, needless to say) or in the mother of all shitty moods if somehow McCain manages to pull his own ass out of the jaws of defeat. In fact, in the latter case, cancel the Nov. 5 hangover--I'll still be drunk. I'm just going to keep drinking for as long as it takes to blunt the agony of a looming McCain/Palin administration.*

Luckily it seems like that possibility gets more remote with each passing day.

So now the only question that remains is: what should be on the Election Night drinks menu? Should we splurge for some really good champagne? Go with a tried-and-true Sauvignon Blanc? Break out the pinot noir? Just buy a case of beer? How will YOU spend your Election Night -- and what will you be drinking?


*It should be noted that under normal circumstances I probably have, at most, three or four alcoholic drinks in a given month.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sign language

I have nine million things I want to say about the election, but absolutely no time at the moment to post any of them. So here instead is a fun Peanut story from this weekend.

One of the amusing, if occasionally unsettling, things about having your kid in full-time day care is that it's really hard to keep up on all the things he or she might be learning there. This is unless you have time to demand that the teachers give you a full blow-by-blow at the end of every school day, which most of us don't. And I think the teachers get annoyed at the parents who ask for that much detail anyway. So thus it transpired that, without our knowing it, the Peanut has been learning sign language in school.

We discovered this a week or so ago during storytime right before we put her to bed, when she calmly raised her right hand and began making a bunch of signals neither of us recognized, because of course we don't know sign language. At the same time she recited the letters in her name, which has six letters, just like "Peanut." This amused us to no end.

Yesterday we were on the train heading into Boston, on our way to the always-awesome Boston Common playground. Mr. Fraulein sat down with the Peanut on his lap, right next to two elderly ladies. One of them gestured towards the Peanut and began talking excitedly to me. I couldn't understand a word she said, and it took me a minute to figure out that she was deaf. She and her friend began signing to each other. Finally the woman mouthed out a word I managed to catch--beautiful, she said, gesturing towards the Peanut again. And then she and her friend signed to each other some more.

"These ladies are using sign language, do you see that?" I told the Peanut. "Can you tell them your name?"

She nodded and held up her hand, methodically making the sign for each letter. The women beamed, and the Peanut beamed back at her new friends.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The real Palin to appear on 'SNL' this week

One question: How do they propose to control the live audience? Talk about your must-see TV. You won't be able to hear the actors for the booing. Get your popcorn ready!
(Photo credit CBS News)
MONDAY UPDATE: Well, they kept the audience from booing somehow. That surprised me. Maybe it was because she pretty much just sat there like a lump and didn't do anything!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Misogynist-in-chief

So McCain had a ton of low points in last night's final presidential debate. It's tough to pinpoint the absolute worst one but for my money, it was this nugget of pure unadulterated misogyny:

Just again, an example of the eloquence of Sen. Obama. He's for the 'health of the mother.' You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything.
Which he put in air quotes, no less. Nice job, McCain. In that moment he made the Republican party's rabid anti-choice agenda crystal clear. All American women in their reproductive years need to listen to what McCain says here, and more importantly, watch the video. Look at this man's face and tell me what you see there doesn't terrify you if you are a woman who could potentially develop a pregnancy that results in a life-threatening condition!

Understand what he's saying--he's saying the health of the mother doesn't matter. If you or I end up with an ectopic pregnancy, according to McCain, that's tough luck for us. The fertilized egg cannot survive an ectopic pregnancy under any circumstances, but the mother can, and often does, become infertile after suffering this condition. Or, in some cases, if she defers medical treatment, she can die.

But that's OK with John McCain. This now-dead woman might have other kids who are now motherless, but the important thing to this reprehensible man and his reprehensible party is she avoided having what in technical terms is an abortion. Even though the fertilized egg in question has no chance of becoming a fetus, let alone a viable baby. An ectopic pregnancy is a de facto miscarriage. Every time. But risking this mother's death by denying her medical help in this situation is just dandy with John McCain and the Republican party.

UPDATE: Plenty of others have picked up on this as well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Awe inspiring

If you want to have yourself a good cry over an amazing birth story, or just flash back to your own childbirth experience, especially if you had pitocin, go read Fable's birth story over at Girl's Gone Child.

My 401K down at least $9,000

Yesterday I got my 401K statement in the mail. I lost $9,000 in retirement savings in the year ending Sept. 30, which is before a lot of the worst stock market mayhem took place. So...yeah. If I were to check the balance now, which I won't because I don't feel like throwing up, I would guess I'd see that it's probably down something like $12-15K total.

At this rate I'll be working until I turn 80. Thanks Republicans!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Open letter to John McCain

Dear Sen. McCain:

You know what would be awesome? If you would stop calling us your "friends." I guess I can't speak for others but I know you're sure as hell not my friend. For one thing, I lack the nine-figure income you so prize in your closest associates.

Your party, the party of the ultra-rich who have been raping this country for the last eight years, is no friend to any middle-class American. It is no friend to the environment, to the economy, or to our national infrastructure. It is no friend to the poor or to the mentally ill or to any of those desperate for health insurance. It is also no friend to our allies across the world, whose good faith we have squandered through our endless wars aimed solely at earning money for major Republican party contributors.

So spare me the contrived intimacy. Do us all a favor and take your hackneyed "maverick" act back to the Senate, where with any luck an incoming Democratic majority will keep you from doing much more harm. And, please, for the love of God, get Caribou Barbie a one-way ticket back to Anchorage.

Looking forward to seeing a lot less of you after Nov. 4,

Fraulein

Astonishing

If there’s one thing that’s universally true about parenthood, it’s that every stage of your child’s life will provide you with new surprises. In the case of the Peanut, at the risk of sounding like an insufferable bragging mother, I have to say that her verbal skills were off the charts from very early on. When she was two she spoke in sentences—very short simple ones, true, but sentences nonetheless. Now that she’s four her grasp of cause and effect, and even more abstract concepts, is becoming clearer to us, and it’s nothing short of astonishing. She constantly makes observations about how one thing affects something else. But it’s her emotional development that is even more interesting to watch, though a bit nerve-wracking for me.

The Peanut comes from a long line of finely-emotionally-tuned, sensitive women. My mother, whom I love dearly and have a great relationship with now (though I didn’t always) is probably the biggest worrier I’ve ever met. Except for my mother-in-law, who exhibits many similar traits. My mother’s epic anxieties were a source of constant angst in our household when I was growing up. There’s no doubt that I’ve inherited these tendencies, though I try to keep them in check. Right now the Peanut is going through a stage (which may be nothing more) where she is extremely sensitive to any perceived emotional wound. Last night when we walked in the door, all I wanted to do was go to the bathroom in peace, and she wouldn’t give me two minutes to do it. I got impatient with her.

“Two minutes! Just let me be in here by myself for two minutes!” I said, shutting the door firmly. At which point I heard, from the other side of the door, a mournful wail.

“But now you’ll hate me forever!” she cried.

Can you imagine anything more heart-rending than that? The idea that my beloved Peanut, who I like to imagine, now, as literally a light that I carried inside me for 35 years in the form of one tiny, magical egg, might think that I could hate her?

I came out of the bathroom and kneeled down next to her. “Can I tell you something?” I said. “I need you to understand that there’s no way I could ever, ever hate you. You are my beautiful Peanut and I love you more than anything. I just really wanted some privacy in the bathroom for a minute.”

She stopped crying and nodded at me. And such is the resilience of four-year-olds that she immediately started chattering again, pulling out toys and running around the house like a brightly colored spinning top, the way she always does.

UPDATE: And then this morning, she was hanging out with me as I was getting dressed. She likes to help pick out my clothes for the day. I asked her to bring me a non-descript knit shirt from a drawer, and she did, taking her usual pride in "helping." "You look beautiful in that, Mommy," she said. How blessed am I, to have this Peanut for my very own?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Our next President


If this photo does not set your heart aflutter you may be clinically dead.

(Photo credit: Huffingtonpost.com)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Four


Scene: Our house, January 2004

Me: What is the deal with this super PMS I’m having? It’s like PMS on steroids. Why does my back hurt? Why do my breasts hurt?

Mr. Fraulein: I don’t know—late cycle? It can’t be that you’re pregnant yet, right? Since we tried exactly one time so far?


Scene: Our house, a couple of days later

Me: So I still haven’t gotten my period and I feel like my body has been taken over by aliens.

Mr. Fraulein: Um, I don’t know. How often do people get pregnant on the first try?

Me: No clue. I guess it’s time to buy a pregnancy test.


Scene: Our bathroom, later that evening

Me: Holy crap. There’s the blue plus sign.

Mr. Fraulein: SCORE!!


Fast forward to…


Scene: St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Boston, Oct. 1, 2004, 7:01 p.m.

Seeming cast of thousands of nurses, technicians, etc.: PUSH!!! PUSH!!! PUSH!!! Keep PUSHING!!!!

Me: AAAIIIIGGGHHHH! AAAIIIIGGGHHHH! Holy $@#, there’s the feet! Look at that-- I see FEET!

Nurses, etc.: IT’S A GIRL!!!

Mr. Fraulein: I told you not to be so sure it was a boy.


Fast forward to…


Scene: Our house, this morning

Peanut: I’M FOUR!! I’M FOUR!!
Happy Birthday Peanut!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Well played, Brave Sir John

Bravo, Sen. McCain. Is this the first time in American history that a major party presidential candidate has threatened to refuse to engage in a public debate? It's got to be unprecedented. Here's my theory: McCain is terrified of how decrepit he will look on TV standing next to Barack Obama. When I was in journalism school, we had extensive lectures on the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon debate. When people watched John F. Kennedy debate Richard Nixon on live TV, it was a blowout. Nixon was clammy and sweaty and jowly and Kennedy radiated youth and confidence. Game over.

John McCain makes Richard Nixon, circa 1960, look like Brad Pitt, circa 1997. Game over once again. Brave indeed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What happens when government doesn't regulate industry

This is what happens. If the Republicans retain control of the government, look for headlines like this--"Toxic Milk Poisons Thousands of Children"--to become commonplace in the U.S.

UPDATE: Mmmm, Republican laissez-faire economics--tastes like rocket fuel!

What we're up against

This.

When I was a newspaper reporter back in the mid-1990s I covered this very town. Hung out with the cops and the firemen, chatted up the school board, sat through God knows how many hours of planning board meetings. It's hard for me to believe this kind of blatant racism will be tolerated there, but who knows. Fear combined with ignorance makes people do spectacularly stupid things, like voting against their own self-interest.

Did you know that under John McCain's health care plan, 158 million Americans risk losing their employer-provided health insurance? If this doesn't scare the shit out of you, you're not paying attention. And this is just one of the many, many things McCain and the Republicans will do, if elected, to further drive this country into the ground. But only if we let them. Do you think the guy who can't remember how many houses he owns--the guy who owns 13 cars--will fight for your middle-class interests? Please.

You have a choice, America. You can give in to your lizard-brain fears of the guy who looks different from you, or you can take a chance on real change. It's up to you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Awkward


We recently picked up a bargain bin copy of the Madagascar DVD, and it's been in heavy rotation in our house these days. The Peanut loves it--especially Mort the mouse lemur. I think the penguins are by far the funniest thing in the movie, though.

So I've been walking around for days saying, "We're gonna blow this dump!"--quoting the main penguin, "The Skipper." This cracks the Peanut up to no end. Thus it was awkward when, as we packed up to go home from a playdate at a friend's house yesterday, the Peanut declared, "We're gonna blow this dump!" which prompted a blank stare from the other kid's mommy, who of course had not seen "Madagascar" and simply thought the Peanut was calling her house a dump.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The princess and the superhero

Lately around our house the subject of Halloween is coming up almost as often as the subject of the Peanut's impending 4th birthday. ("Is it my birthday yet?" Is it my birthday NOW?") She keeps going back and forth between her original idea, some kind of superhero costume, and Princess Jasmine, who she simply LOVES. It looks at this point as if Jasmine will emerge victorious, which makes me sigh because I've been railing for so long against the insidious impact of the Disney princess narrative. She's seen bits and pieces of the "Aladdin" movie, which I have to admit I do love even in spite of its being a Disney princess movie, and ever since then I swear to God she has been talking about getting married. Allow me to repeat: SHE IS 3. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Anyway, I loved the idea of her being, as she put it, a "purple superhero." Using her powers of near-supernatural cuteness only for good. Fighting bad guys by shooting adorability rays out from between her unbelievably long eyelashes. Etc. But it seems it is not to be, at least not this Halloween. There's always next year!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The ad the Obama campaign should have made

THIS is what they should be doing in their advertising. Fighting back HARD against the disgusting McCain ad that says Obama wants to "teach sex ed in kindergarten" when the real intent of the law the ad references was to talk to young children about avoiding "stranger danger."

Where is the campaign? What the hell are they doing?? We the voters want them to bring a goddamn nuclear bomb to this knife fight. So far they've come with water balloons. Even though I have been very confident so far that Obama can win the election, I think he's in danger of blowing it if he doesn't prove he's tough enough to win. Ads that go nuclear would be an excellent place to start.

UPDATE: OK, it appears they're on top of it. Freakout over for the moment anyway.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years

Where's Osama bin Laden? Oh, that's right, we can't find him. Oh well.

To understand the significance of this, let's play my favorite game: "Imagine if (fill-in-the-blank) was said/done by a Democrat." Imagine for a moment that the worst-ever terrorist attack on American soil had occurred on the watch of a Democratic president. Then imagine said president not being forced to resign immediately in disgrace. Try not to snort coffee on your keyboard laughing at this premise.

But since we're in the realm of fantasy, let's just say that this theoretical Democratic president not only was able to stay in office but later "elected" to a second term with the help of illegal voter list purging in Ohio, among other dirty tricks. Then let's say that several MORE years had gone by with no progress in apprehending the alleged foreign mastermind of the attacks. Try to imagine what they'd be screaming about in the bought-and-paid-for corporate media on the 7th anniversary of the event. Methinks it would be something other than this (the lead story on CNN at lunchtime today).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Do other people's kids talk like this?


The Peanut has developed a very distinctive speech pattern where she puts a lot of emphasis on certain words. I keep trying to figure out where this comes from, and I now suspect she is imitating us when we speak to her and, without meaning to, emphasize certain words she's having trouble pronouncing or whatever. This weird emphasis thing, combined with the usual 3-year-old tendency to jump very quickly from topic to topic, is a scream when she goes off on a monologue, as she often does when we're in the car. Also she says "Mama?" after practically every sentence to make sure I'm still listening. So she sounds like this:

I wish we could just FLY to school because then we'd get there faster. I wish the car had WINGS. But we'd have to be careful not to make too many turns or I'll BARF again. I hate it when I BARF in the car. Mama? Did you know people can SHRINK? Yesterday Owen said when he and his cousin went in the ocean when they were on vacation, they went all the way to the bottom and they SHRINKED! For REAL, Mama! And then when they came out of the water they UNSHRINKED! I wonder how they did that? Mama?

I don't like pink anymore. Now my favorite colors are purple and teal and KUR-QUOISE. Kur-twoise? Quor-quoise? That's a hard word to say. Maybe we can find me a superhero Halloween costume with ALL my favorite colors in it, even QUOR-TOO-QUOISE. Maybe we can get a little superhero costume for Mainey (the Peanut's teddy bear--full name: Main Teddy. It's a long story). She can have a little cape and we can FIGHT BAD GUYS! Mama? Can you make Mainey a little tiny superhero cape? That would be SO CUTE!

Mama? At my birthday party I get the PRESENTS, right Mama? And everybody else gets the GOODIES? Do we have goodie bags for the party yet, Mama? Is it October yet? It's my birthday SOON, right? Mama?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

This is why I love the English...

...They have such a highly-developed sense of the ridiculous. They're having some kind of street theater festival in Liverpool, during which a 50-foot mechanical spider which is currently perched on the side of a building, will be let loose to roam the streets as part of the festivities. Good times. I can just imagine walking around the city with the Peanut, checking out the art exhibits, maybe getting a snack, enjoying the overall vibe as we did in London a few weeks ago, and then we turn a corner and come upon a spider the size of a house.

Likely Peanut reaction: AAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! MOMMY -- MAKE IT GO AWAY!!!!!! AAAAAAAIIIIIIGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

Also, best comment from the above Huffington Post story:
To see that thing crash the Republic National Convention with an Obama sticker on it would have been cool. Nothing suits me better than a bunch of terrified racists.

Friday, September 05, 2008

All over but the shouting

So, what a crazy couple of weeks. I’ve had about 65 moments of witnessing some Republican atrocity on TV and spluttering with rage while simultaneously realizing what a great blog post it would make, yet I’ve been way too busy to post. I’m really glad this train wreck of a convention is over now so I can finally collect my thoughts on it. I’ve been going back and forth on the significance of Sarah Palin and the overall meaning of the hard-right tack taken by the McCain campaign, but today, after the old man’s acceptance speech last night, I’m actually feeling pretty confident. What do the Republicans have to offer middle-class America? A big fat pile of nothing. With a generous side order of hypocrisy.

Good Christ on a bike (as a friend of mine used to say) it simply cannot be possible that the country will be taken in by this pile of crapola AGAIN. Right? Please tell me that’s not possible. I mean, really…Obama bases his entire campaign on the theme of “change.” The last eight years have sucked for everyone but the uber-wealthy. This is beyond dispute. So what does McCain come back with? What’s his response to Obama’s message of reform? Two messages: “Vote for us and we’ll put ultra-right-wing theocrats in charge of everything,” coupled with “We’re going to clean up this mess around here.” And there you sit in your living room, listening to this clamor for “reform” from the political equivalent of the Gambino crime family, wondering whether you’ve slipped down some wormhole in the space-time continuum where GEORGE BUSH AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DIDN’T CONTROL THE WHITE HOUSE, THE CONGRESS AND THE COURTS FOR THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. Does nobody see the problem with this? The Republicans’ whole bid for four more years of executive power is that they’re going to fix the mess made over the last eight years by, well, pretty much all the same Republicans, enacting pretty much the same policies they are currently promoting. OK then. No cognitive dissonance there.

Meanwhile the Republican party has suddenly discovered feminism, which is highly amusing on a number of levels. They made Hilary Clinton out to have horns and cloven hooves, and excoriated her mercilessly when she cried sexism (rightly or wrongly) during her presidential bid. Yet their new standard bearer, AK-47 Moose-Murdering Barbie, no one may dare criticize, lest the entire Republican establishment simultaneously explode with righteous rage. How dare the press try to ask her questions about her professional and political background, just because she aspires to be the second most powerful person in the world? How dare they print stories about her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, after the McCain campaign itself announced the girl was pregnant? For the record I agree the whole teen pregnancy thing should be out of bounds in the media coverage of the campaign. It has no relevance either to Palin’s experience or to her qualifications. That said—they put out a freeeeking press release about it. They didn’t expect anyone to run a story? Are these people living on Mars?

It’s also quite fun to see how the Republicans are suddenly leaping to the defense of working mothers. All these years they’ve been demonizing ordinary women who have babies and then go back to work out of economic necessity, yet when Sarah Palin launches a vice presidential bid four months after giving birth to a special needs infant, all they have is praise for her. Imagine, just imagine, if Michelle Obama was the one who had recently had the Down syndrome baby. All we’d hear 24/7 is how scandalous it is that she left the side of the newborn baby to go off campaigning. Also, needless to say, just imagine the shitstorm if it was the Obamas who had the pregnant teenage daughter, by the way. The script they would follow writes itself: “Don’t these blacks know how to raise their kids right?”

And am I the only one who thinks McCain just looks tired? He looks like he wants to go home. I don’t think his heart is in this anymore. I’m actually starting to feel sorry for him. He had his moment, eight years ago, but it’s slipping out of his grasp and I think he knows it. He looks defeated. He has had a hard life, and he deserves to sit on the porch with a drink in his hand, watching his grandkids (does he have any grandkids yet? Presumably he will soon enough) playing. He should go on a long vacation and spend some more of Cindy’s money. Maybe take a nice cruise.

Because after that ginormous clusterf*!k of a convention—they are so clueless, they couldn’t even keep the protestors out of the building! They’re so inept, they Google-searched for a photo of Walter Reed Medical Center and came up with some elementary school with Walter Reed in the name, and nobody caught the mistake!—it’s all over but the celebrations on the day we inaugurate President Barack Obama.

UPDATE: I almost forgot: how hilarious was it when, at the end of McCain's speech, they put up a video of fireworks on that giant screen behind the stage? Take that, Obama campaign. You guys had real fireworks but we had, uh, really nice pictures of fireworks!

If that doesn't sum up this whole presidential race I don't know what does.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Un-patient

The Peanut, first thing this morning when I went in her room to wake her up: "Is it Oct. 1st yet?"

Me: "No, sweetie, not yet."

Peanut: "I want my birthday to come. I'm un-patient."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Politics and race: Why the Boston Globe sucks, part nine million and seventy-three

So this morning in the hack-tastic Boston Globe we read this:

One convention priority, according to strategists, will be to recast Obama's life story to serve as a rejoinder to rumors about his patriotism and religion that have preyed on his exotic origins. Those worldly immigrant roots figured prominently in his 2004 speech, but many Democrats say that this year he should put greater emphasis on biographical elements that highlight elements of middle-class, all-Americanness.
Which just proves my point about how much the Globe (and the corporate media in general) sucks. What I want to know is, when will people finally wise up to the immense stupidity of the right-wing canard that anyone with "worldly immigrant roots" isn't really an American? I hate to break it to the Globe, but pretty much everyone in the entire country came from immigrant roots. Maybe your parents and your grandparents and your great-grandparents were born on U.S. soil, but chances are your great-great-grandparents were born somewhere else. Interesting too how those of northern European descent get a pass on this criticism. If your forebears came to the U.S. from Germany or some similarly lily-white place, all of a sudden you're not so exotic.

My ancestors, in the relatively recent past, spent all day working in the broiling Sicilian sun and probably had darker skin than Barack Obama. Am I, as an Italian-American whose American-born roots only stretch back as far as my own parents (my grandparents were born on Italian soil) "exotic" too? What is my daughter, with her mix of Asian and European genes? Mighty "exotic," I'd wager, at least according to the nearsighted fools who pass for professional journalists these days.

At the end of the day, isn't this simply racism? "Exotic origins" my ass--Obama was born in Hawaii, which, the last time I checked, was part of the United States. But, you know, a bunch of swarthy-looking types live there, or so the "low-information voter" types the Globe is evidently written for seem to believe, so Hawaii is somehow suspect. Not only that, but half Obama's background is lily-whitey-white, which interestingly never seems to come up in absurd news stories like this one. His mother's maiden name was "Dunham." Doesn't get much whiter than that. But the Kenyan father cancels out the WASP portion of Obama's backround in the nearly fact-free corporate media narrative about his life.

Which also brings up another point, which is how absurd it is to parse these racial details to such an extent. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you go far enough back in your own history, you'll find all kinds of colors, races and religions. Anyone who thinks "Well, we're Irish Catholic today, we were in my grandparents' time, and we always have been" chances are is speaking in blissful ignorance of some long-ago dalliance between a forebear and some dark-skinned slave girl.

If this country is ever going to move forward, we're going to have to get over our juvenile obsession with race (which I know sounds like an enormous cliche, but it's still true). When I was home on maternity leave with the Peanut, I stumbled across a snippet of an old movie on TV that was amazingly eye-opening. Here I was having recently given birth to a baby with a perfect mix of Asian and European features, and across my TV screen flashed a scene of pandemonium in a hospital maternity ward. The dialogue-free scene showed three new mothers--white, black and Asian--each being handed a baby wrapped tightly in blankets. One after the other they unwrapped the bundles to find a baby of a different race! The white mother held an Asian baby, the Asian mother held a black baby, the black mother held a white baby. Against a backdrop of music appropriate for a light comedy, they rang their bedside alarm bells and gesticulated wildly, calling for help.

The movie appeared to date from about the early 1960s, but as we can see from the kind of bullshit being spewed in our "mainstream" press these days, this attitude of rigid racial divisions still prevails. I had to laugh as I sat in my living room, clothing covered in spit-up, breast-pump at my side, piles of unfolded laundry everywhere, and thought about my own situation and that of my new multiracial baby. In a movie produced not even a decade before I was born, the idea of a multiracial couple was preposterous, obscene. But it was my life in 2004. I'm far from the only one. There's a kid we see on our local playground from time to time whose hair is light brown and her perfectly Asian-shaped eyes are grayish blue. "Exotic" in some ways perhaps, but thankfully ordinary enough, at least in our neck of the woods.

How silly our corporate media is going to look when America looks beyond the media's tired old stereotypes to elect its first multiracial president. It's a moment I hope the Peanut will look back on fondly as she grows up.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Random Friday thoughts

In no particular order:

-- In a little over five weeks the Peanut will turn 4. Hour by hour she is shedding the babyish aspects of her personality and becoming more fully a kid. She speaks more articulately than George W. Bush (not that that sets the bar too high) and she is suddenly full of attitude. Which scares me just a teeny bit. There are moments lately when a latent 13-year-old jumps out of the three-and-three-quarters-year-old, and it's hard to know how to respond to that. Luckily these little eruptions of teenager-like attitude are interspersed with her more usual sweetness and overwhelming overall cuteitude.

-- The Peanut has announced that she wants to be a "purple superhero" for Halloween. I have no idea what this means, except I suspect it will involve me heading to a craft store and searching for cheap purple fabric to make into a cape. (NOTE: I am not in any sense crafty. This is going to be one crappy-looking Halloween costume...)

-- Of all the aspects of the whole "John McCain is so rich he can't remember how many houses he owns" controversy, the one that amuses me the most is the thing about the 9-car Starbucks run. Nothing says you're a man of the people like heading out for your morning cup-o-joe in a platoon of armored limousines. I realize the guy has to have a security detail and everything, but sending nine cars to get him one cup of coffee? Really? So environmentally-sensitive of him. As I've said before, you almost have to wonder whether there's an Obama mole inside the McCain campaign. The mistakes they're making are taking on epic proportions now.

-- I am incredibly psyched for the Olympic closing ceremonies. You wonder how they'll top the opening events.

-- And I'm incredibly annoyed about the delay in release of the Harry Potter "Half-Blood Prince" movie. The idea that the studio will make more money by holding onto it until next summer, instead of releasing it this November as originally planned, is preposterous. If the release date was a Wednesday in February, the Potter fans would be there with bells on. With this franchise it doesn't matter at all when they release it. Very aggravating development, although I guess this will give the Potter fan blogs something to talk about for the next several months.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Random photos of the Peanut






Old ones and a new one on top...just because.

More on "Miss Buffalo Chip"

Seriously, is there an Obama mole within the McCain campaign who arranged for him to appear at this thing? Get a load of this description of the event from a commenter on Talking Points Memo:

I grew up in Western South Dakota, and can tell you that "topless, and occasionally bottomless" barely scratches the surface on Miss Buffalo Chip. There were always rumors about underage contestants and on-stage sex--that was simply what Buffalo Chip stood for in the collective unconscious of teenage boys in the Rapid City area. This amounts to John McCain volunteering his wife for a Girls Gone Wild video. Quite a lady's man, that McCain...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

McCain speaks at wacko topless biker rally

I heard about this on Air America the other day and I assumed it was part of a comedy skit. "They couldn't possibly be that stupid, could they?" I asked Mr. Fraulein about McCain's campaign managers.

Turns out they are that stupid. Family values party indeed.

Indeed, McCain felt so comfortable at the event that he even volunteered his wife for the rally’s traditional beauty pageant, an infamously debauched event that’s been known to feature topless women.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Princess Chunk update

The 44-pound cat is actually a boy, and his real name is "Powder." He is a victim of the Bush economy. His owner let him loose because her house was foreclosed. (Presumably he ate them out of house and home -- literally!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

44-pound cat found in New Jersey

I'm glad this giant beastie wasn't found wandering in north Jersey, because if it was, my mother, the cat lady, would have found a way to take it in.

I have to say, though, this is a bit hard to believe. A 44-pound housecat? Really? If the story is true, this animal weighs more than the Peanut.

Uppity

When the hacks who have a stranglehold on our broken, oh so broken media call Obama "presumptuous," what they mean is "uppity." As in, "uppity negro." And don't think they're above doctoring quotes for their own purposes, as the consistently-sharp Bob Cesca shows here. The Washington Post is happy to use half-quotes from Barack Obama to make him sound arrogant. That's just standard operating procedure.

But meanwhile, does anyone care to place bets on whether the Post will find time to report on the salt-of-the-earth, very non-elitist John McCain's choice of footwear (as they would do in about three seconds if Obama went around wearing $500+ shoes)? I suspect not. They need to devote those column inches to making sure black politicians know their proper place.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not dead, just insanely busy

This poor blog has been shamefully neglected lately...I actually have a whole running list of things I want to write about if I ever manage to find the time. I'm a list maker. Always have been. The problem is that most of the time instead of getting accomplished, the items on my list languish there for months as it (the list) sits crumpled at the bottom of my purse. How sad is that?

Meanwhile there is the Peanut's lively social schedule, which Mr. Fraulein and I spend much of our weekends attending to. I've lost count of how many children's birthday parties we've gone to so far this summer. If you need information about any kids' party venue and/or birthday cake baker in the greater Boston area, I'm your girl, as I am now intimately acquainted with all of them. It's by turns touching and hilarious how excited a 3- or 4-year-old kid can get about another kid's birthday. (It would be nice if this sense of empathy could stay with them when they grow up. ) Today for example one of the kids at the Peanut's preschool is having an after-school birthday party at his house, complete with backyard water slide, pizza and cake. The teachers are driving the kids to these people's house in the school mini-bus. This will be the first time the Peanut has ever ridden in a school-bus type vehicle. She's been talking about it for days.

"I'm going to sit next to C. on the bus and we can talk on the ride," she said this morning, her voice quivering with excitement. I had an immediate vision of the Peanut at age 17, decked out in a floor-length gown, waiting for C. (her best buddy) to arrive to take her to the prom. She seemed so much like a teenager in love at that moment, I had to grip the bathroom sink for support. (She is, mind you, 3 years old.)

And even aside from the parties, just the sheer number of activities this kid packs into a single weekend, continues to astound me. The tricycle riding with the neighbors' kids in front of the house! The multiple trips to the playground! The production of highly elaborate marker and crayon drawings on her easel, often signed in her preschool hand, with the E's in our last name carefully marked with about five little horizontal lines. The doll and teddy bear tea parties in the living room. Etc. There are very few moments of simply vegging in front of the TV, even when the TV is on, which we feel is a good sign. She often uses the TV as background noise for whatever make-believe she is cooking up on the living room rug. And the things that come out of her mouth are still hilarious.

"I love you and Daddy more than chocolate milk," she said this weekend. That's a lot!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rising from the ashes

Remember that woman whose car I saw go up in flames in front of the Brookline Gap store? The one who I and everyone else on the scene of that horrible car accident thought for sure was dead? According to our local weekly paper, in spite of the car being destroyed, only 17 percent of her body was burned.

“Had they not doused the woman with all those fire extinguishers … she would have perished,” said Gropman. “It was the only part of the car that wasn’t absolutely charred.”
The two guys who turned the fire extinguishers on the burning car (one of whom was definitely just some random shopper in that Gap store, not a store owner, as this article says --I saw the whole thing) have never been identified in any of the news stories I've read on the accident. I hope they have seen the stories and realize that they are responsible for saving a life. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and they're heroes of mine even though I suspect I will never know their names.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Random observation Thursday

Things have been so insanely busy since we came back from the first two of our three planned vacations this summer (and how did THAT happen, by the way? This is the first time we've ever taken this many trips in so short a time frame) that I still have had no time to write about several things:

-- London, and how immensely cool it was to be back in the U.K. again and to finally meet the two children of a great friend

-- Our visit to Knole House for an awesome Virginia Woolf-related historical tour

-- Our sixth wedding anniversary, which we celebrated in London

-- The Peanut's accelerating precociousness and looming 4th birthday.

So in lieu of an actual substantive post I thought I would provide a list of random observations. To wit:

-- When you go off Weight Watchers to save the $39 a month, figuring you know the system well enough and will be capable of staying "On Plan" (as the WW people say) on your own, you pretty much immediately start gaining weight again.

-- Arrested Development is my new favorite TV show even though it no longer exists. (Thank you, Netflix!) I can't decide whether my favorite character is GOB or Tobias, though. Will Arnett's voice alone is so unbelievably hilarious. Although I have to say, I'm also loving the bits where Buster goes off to "Army."

-- Having weird foot bone structure that has caused bunions is a drag, in that it causes me to have sudden attacks of stabbing foot pain (and in that I had to spend over $400 -- not covered by insurance -- on orthotic shoe inserts) but the upside is that I have been forced to shop for new shoes.

-- I cannot wait to see WALL-E!

Monday, July 07, 2008

What politics is really about

MONEY. Whether the rich end up with all of it, or whether the rest of us can have a piece of the pie. This is why politics matters:

An objective outsider who laid fresh eyes on America's economic scene, a twenty-first century Tocqueville, would probably think that the federal government would be eager to use tax policy to offset these widening disparities.But the tax cuts that President Bush and Congress enacted since 2000 have in many ways aggravated the disparities, according to statistics from the Tax Policy Center, a respected, nonpartisan research group. Those tax cuts gave $20 on average to the bottom 20 percent of American households, $744 on average to the middle fifth, and $118,477 to those with income or more than $1 million annually.

One can see the economic divide widen in another way. The average income for the top 1 percent of households was ten times that for the middle fifth in 1979. By 2005, those in the top 1 percent earned 21 times as much as those in the middle. Income for the top 1 percent of households averaged 70 times that of households in the bottom fifth, the greatest gap on record, up from 23 times as much in 1979.

At the pinnacle of the inequality pyramid are the nation's CEOs. American corporations may be tightfisted about raises for most workers, but they paid their chief executives $10.5 million on average in 2005, including salary, bonuses and stock options. That was quadruple their pay a dozen years earlier. This means the typical CEO earns 369 times as much as the average worker, up from 131 times in 1993 and 36 times in 1976.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Things to read

In case it's not clear that few in the "mommy blogging" business do this thing better than Antique Mommy, check out these posts about what happens when a Pull-up ends up in the dryer, a beloved old toy car, and seeing yourself in your kid's face. Just amazing stuff.

London calling





I've been out of blogging mode lately because I've been out of the country--we are just back from a family trip to London. Work, etc., are conspiring to keep me from doing much blogging at the moment but a trip update is coming soon! In the meantime here's a bit of what we saw in my beautiful England (the London Eye, Wimbledon park, and Knole House in Kent.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Star of the day

They've started a new thing at the Peanut's pre-school: each day one of the kids takes a turn being "Star of the Day." This means they get to bring in a special show-and-tell item and they get to be "line leader" when they line up to go outside. Today the Peanut is Star of the Day and she is very excited about it. Especially the "line leader" part for some reason.

She seems to like to be in charge. We keep on saying she obviously has a future in project management. Either that or dictatorship.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And now for something less depressing




Been meaning to post these for a while -- pictures from our Father's Day brunch! Since I don't often cook, this was something of an occasion. The apple and cheddar fritatta recipe is here, and the ruby fruit salad recipe is here. I love Everyday Food!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life and death

On Thursdays I work at home. I usually try to get online early in the morning, as soon as Mr. Fraulein leaves the house to take the Peanut to day care, so I can wrap up early enough to take a walk in the afternoon when the weather is nice, like it was today.

So as I usually do on sunny Thursday late-afternoons, I headed out for a walk through my lovely neighborhood. Rush hour was just starting, and as always, tons of people were milling around my town's little commercial district. I ducked into the Gap store that I drive past on every other day of the week when I'm commuting home from my office, usually with the Peanut in the car. I went to check out the sale items in the back of the store. I was deep into bargain hunting when I heard the crash. I turned around, looked out the front windows of the store, and saw flames shooting 15 feet into the air. A car parked in front of the store, not 30 feet from where I stood, was engulfed in flames. I froze, unable to comprehend what I was seeing. All around me, shoppers and store employees started screaming.

Oh my God, call 911!

Does anyone have a fire extinguisher? Get a fire extinguisher out here NOW!

There's a woman in that car!

I can see her! I can see her face!

A tall man barrelled past, carrying a fire extinguisher he had gotten from the Gap employees. He and another man who had come running into the street from a nearby restaurant, and who also had a fire extinguisher, attempted to put out the fire in the car--risking serious injury to do so. It went out briefly, but then re-ignited.

GET AWAY FROM THE WINDOWS! The fire department says everyone should move back in case another car catches fire!

The people inside the store moved back a few feet. A woman ran past, shouting something about her children, who were apparently inside another parked car that had been involved in the accident. A few minutes later I saw the kids, who looked to be around 8 or 10 years old, taken away on stretchers, but they looked OK. (I later heard on the TV news that the children were not badly hurt.)

Slowly people made their way outside the store, but continued to linger in the street to watch the increasing chaos of ambulances, "jaws of life" equipment and fire trucks. Everyone had been moved back far enough that it wasn't clear what happened to the woman in the car, the one I heard people in the Gap store saying they saw clearly as the flames rose higher and higher. When I heard people exclaiming about this, I deliberately turned away, desperately wanting NOT to see a fellow human being burning to death. (If the story I've linked to here is correct, somehow they managed to get her out of the car, alive.)

Now it is very late and I should go to bed, but I can't get the image of this burning car out of my mind. What kind of shape is this woman in now? And why did the elderly man who died, the driver of the original car, end up speeding so unbelievably fast down a quiet suburban street? Presumably he had a heart attack or something at the wheel, but I wonder if it will ever be known for sure?

And what if I, or someone I love, had been crossing the street at that moment?

When I came back home, I took a quick survey of my condo complex neighbors, many of whom have young children and most of whom walk through this very commercial area all the time. I knew my husband and the Peanut, on the other side of town, coming back from her day care, were safe, but I wondered about those I know to commute through this area. Luckily everyone was accounted for. Later in the evening, over dinner at one such neighbor's house, watching the Peanut giggling with their two daughters, I thanked God that none of us had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I couldn't help remembering that the families of those killed and injured in this horrible accident can't take comfort in that thought tonight.

UPDATE: More on the accident here.

UPDATE II: The woman in the car has been upgraded to "serious" condition, according to today's news (Saturday). It's clear that the heroic actions of the people I saw with the fire extinguishers probably saved this woman's life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Drink coffee; live forever

Well, not quite. But still, this is good news for me:

In fact, coffee might even help the heart, especially for women, the researchers found.

"Our results suggest that long-term, regular coffee consumption does not increase the risk of death and probably has several beneficial effects on health," said lead researcher Dr. Esther Lopez-Garcia, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Autonoma University in Madrid, Spain...

The researchers found that women who drank two or three cups of caffeinated coffee daily had a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease during the follow-up (from 1980 to 2004) than non-drinkers. Women also had an 18 percent lower death risk from a cause other than cancer or heart disease compared with non-coffee drinkers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

This child brought to you by an interracial marriage


The Peanut (seen here at age 1) wishes you a happy Loving Day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Very busy at the moment

With travel, work, etc., so not much time to blog. However, I am enjoying how aggressively Obama is taking the fight to McCain, and hoping that before too long we'll get to take our country back. Here is just one example of how the Republicans are still screwing us after all these years (if you drive and are sick of $4/gallon gas, this should resonate):

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America's anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Submediocre Rich Boy 2.0"

If the Republicans don't steal the election again (a big if) their sterling choice of a presidential candidate is going to lose BIG TIME. We're talking Mondale all over again. Could this guy win even one state in an honest election? With gas creeping up towards $5 a gallon? I seriously doubt it.

Compare Obama's and McCain's speeches yesterday. As through the rest of the campaign, there was a striking contrast between McCain's faltering delivery and muddled messaging and Obama's self-assured manner and strong proposals for change. Which is clearly what people want. I think it's telling that even in the comments posted on YouTube, for example, where it should be evenly mixed between supporters of both candidates, the vast majority are skewering McCain, who of course still looks like he's 108 years old. People are describing him as "doddering" and his speaking ability (or lack thereof) as "bordering on the grotesque." I've been trying to keep track of new nicknames for him that people have coined in comments around the blogosphere. So far I've seen:

McBush

McCan’t

McSame

McGramps

McLame

McCorpse

McCadaver

McFrail

McBoring

McCombover

McSanctimonious

Uncle Creepy

...and, my current favorite: "Submediocre-Rich-Boy 2.0."

Meanwhile Bob Cesca, with this description of McCain's off-kilter delivery, once again proves why he is "goddamn awesome" indeed: "Seriously -- he sounds creepy and sinister. Like a second-rate surrogate delivering an introductory speech for a candidate running for sheriff in Toothlessburg."

I cannot wait for the first Obama/McCain debate. How embarrassing is that going to be? Pass the popcorn...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I'm back

So we are officially back from the first of our Fraulein family 2008 summer outings. Our journey to the Los Angeles area to visit Mr. Fraulein's family went really well. We were a bit nervous about how the Peanut would do on the plane, but fortunately for all concerned she handled it like a champ. The fact that she seems to have really gotten the hang of using the potty now was a huge help. In fact she handled the flight better than we did.

You've gotta love how the airline industry has reinvented itself of late. Seems like every time you fly, in coach at least, you somehow have less room. (I'm trying not to consider the possibility that I'm just getting fatter.) One thing I know for sure is at the ripe age of 39 I am not getting taller, and yet somehow my knees seem to get closer to the seat in front of me with each airplane trip. To say I'm not a tall person is an understatement. I'm 5'3. If you are much above 5'9 or so, and, God forbid, weigh more than about 150 pounds, you are in for a world of hurt on a coach flight these days. I think the people who run the airlines have a running competition to see just how little space they can cram the coach passengers in to. "I know--let's make it so you have to be only 5 feet tall and weigh less than 95 pounds to fit in our seats! Let's see how the passengers like THAT! Hahahahaha!!"

Also, the fact that you are traveling from one coast to the other does not entitle you to more than two servings of drinks. Or even to the opportunity to purchase an overpriced, stale sandwich at any point during the flight. Two tiny cups of water and no lunch or snack service, even if you are willing to pay for it. That was it. Good times. If you want to eat on the plane these days, you have to buy something ahead and take it with you, which always makes me feel vaguely like an immigrant clutching a sack of potatoes, heading for Ellis Island. And they wonder why nobody wants to fly anymore...

But aside from all that it was lovely to be in southern California and to enjoy the mystifyingly good weather. Normally at this time of year it starts to get broiling hot, but we arrived in Burbank to partly cloudy skies and 65 degree temperatures. Felt just like home. After a couple of days the sun came out but it never got much above 80, so we were able to get outside a lot with the Peanut, who thoroughly enjoyed the local playgrounds and the L.A. Zoo, where we got close-up views of koala bears and giraffes. We watched, fascinated, as a large male giraffe extended his huge neck high into the trees and curled his long black tongue around the leaves, pulling them into his mouth.

And the Peanut got to spend a lot of quality time with the Chinese side of the family, getting to know her only cousins. When she was born it made a matched set of three granddaughters and three grandsons for Mr. Fraulein's parents, but the age spread is considerable: the next youngest cousin is 11. We had a couple of big, raucous family get-togethers where she got to play hide and seek and red light, green light with the cousins, even the biggest ones, who are in college, so that was great fun for her. And of course California Nana and Pop-Pop, as they are known, were thrilled to have another "baby" to fuss over after all these years.

But by far the best part was getting to spend long, lazy days together, all three of us, with no agenda aside from soaking up every moment of the Peanut's three-and-a-half-ness. She's getting over the whiny stage she entered when she turned 3 and becoming more independent. She makes little jokes. She has strong opinions about her outfits and hairstyles. ("No, today I want LOW ponytails, Mommy!") She's largely outgrown her stroller but on long walks she travels by Daddy. (Time for a piggy-back ride!)

One night when we put her to sleep on her grandparents' guest room day-bed, after going through our usual routine of stories and songs, she sat up and looked at me. "I have a question," she said. It was a question she'd asked before.

"Why do you have to go to work?" she said.

It's always like dying a little death, hearing that question, because of course if we were independently wealthy and could devote every day to trips to the playground with her, we'd do it. But obviously there are bills to pay. So I gave her my standard answer, about how mommy and daddy love her more than anything in the world, but we have to go to work to earn money to pay for our house and our food and our clothes and our toys. And anyway, this way she gets to go to school and learn her letters and numbers and hang out with her cute little friends. She nods solemnly, considering this.

And as I look at her in the waning sunlight filtering through the blinds, I realize that I would give almost anything to capture this moment in amber, to keep her this tiny for as long as I possibly could.

I know her growing up will be amazing. It certainly has been so far. But how lovely, how like a shimmering, dazzling work of art, lit from within, she is at this moment.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain's crazy pastor buddy

I'm sure we'll hear as much outrage in the corporate media about this guy as we did about Jeremiah Wright. Right? Anyone? Hello....?

John Hagee, the controversial evangelical leader and endorser of Sen. John McCain, argued in a late 1990s sermon that the Nazis had operated on God's behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and shepherd them to Palestine. According to the Reverend, Adolph Hitler was a "hunter," sent by God, who was tasked with expediting God's will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Anyone care to place bets...

...on how long it will take one of those vicious right-wing commentators--Ann Coulter, perhaps?--to say how glad they are that Ted Kennedy apparently has brain cancer? I give it until the end of the day, tops.

It's interesting that the HuffPost has disabled comments on that story--obviously they know what to expect.

UPDATE: Minor-league right-wing talker Michael Savage is the winner, coming in with a tasteless comment the very same day, as I predicted. I'm disappointed in Coulter -- she's off her game this week!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lots going on at the moment

Traveling, visiting relatives, going back to a place that I have dearly loved for nearly half my life now. Finally getting to meet the two children of a dear old friend. Imagining the fantastic photo opportunities offered when my Peanut, with her mahogany hair, golden skin and dark, dark eyes, gets together with my friend's gorgeously white-blonde, blue-eyed 3-year-old, born exactly two weeks after the Peanut. Trying to imagine the insane levels of cuteness involved here -- a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old with English accents! Just too cute for words!

Photos to come...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Peanut baffled by my musical taste

Since Air America (with the exception of Rachel Maddow, who is still great) has turned into an infotainment clownfest similar to the traditional media, I no longer listen to it in the car on our XM Radio. Lately I have gotten into XM's 80's station, which allows me to re-live my musical youth.

The other day Journey's "Hopelessly in Love" came on as the Peanut and I were driving home. I hadn't heard this song in years and I enjoyed it to an almost indecent extent. Bopping my head along to the music, I flipped down the rear-view mirror to glance at the Peanut. "Isn't this song the best? This is from when Mommy was a kid!" I said. "Don't you love it?"

"No," she responded. "I don't like it when they yell."

Evidently she doesn't appreciate the vocal stylings of Steve Perry. I can't imagine why not...


UPDATE: Here's a link to a YouTube video of Journey performing this song. Man oh man Steve Perry is an ugly dude. Enjoy the craptacular early-80s outfits and hairstyles! (I take comfort in the fact that since I was 11 years old in 1980, I can't be held responsible for whatever I wore then.) Still a great song though!

On my reading list today

To find out how we can (just maybe) pull our ailing planet back from the brink, visit here and here.

To learn about some of the many things younger than John McCain (velcro! the Golden Gate Bridge! DICK CHENEY!) go here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And still more

My lovely Peanut.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More fun with the new digital camera






Mr. Fraulein and the Peanut and me, and Boston's Commonwealth Ave. in bloom.

Mother's Day 2008





Me and the Peanut, checking out the 100th annual Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum, and enjoying breakfast at Johnny's Luncheonette.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Two years ago tomorrow


On May 9, 2006, we said goodbye to our beloved cat, Marcus, as he lost his brave fight against cancer. He was a big, longish-haired black kitty with the sweetest disposition you can imagine. One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, once described one of her dogs as "Jesus in a little fur suit," and that's kind of how I think of Marcus. So meek and loving and kind. We used to call him the Mighty Panther and the King of the Jungle. I truly hope he is living it up in Kitty Heaven at this very moment. Here's my post from not long after he died.

Rest in peace, my little buddy!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Constant company

One thing anyone with small kids will tell you is that it's hard to get any alone time, even in the "potty." Our mornings are generally somewhat chaotic with trying to get ourselves and the Peanut fed, take showers, pack lunches, etc., with the goal of getting out the door sometime before, say, noon. So inevitably when I try to get in the shower, this happens:

Peanut: Hi mommy! Are you taking a shower?

Me: Yeah, I just turned the water on, so why don't you go help Daddy with your lunch and...

Peanut, slapping me on the behind as I lean over next to the bathtub: Can I play the drums on your butt? (Slapslapslapslap. Gigglegigglegigglegiggle. Slapslapslapslap.)

Me: OK, that's enough of that, I have to get into the shower now...

Peanut: Do you want a toy? I'll bring you a duckie.

Me: Sure, I'll take a duckie.

Peanut: Do you want ALL the bath toys?

Me: No, one is enough, thanks, don't throw all that stuff in here...

Peanut, with an armful of squeezy bath animals, opening the shower doors and leaning into the water spray: Here you go! Whee!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No filter

(You'll have to forgive the vagueness of this rant, but it's something I'd like to get off my chest without disclosing too many details...)

Did you ever know somebody with no filter? Someone who will just say anything--particularly if it's boastful and self-aggrandizing--regardless of the inappropriateness of the setting in which he or she is shooting off his or her mouth?

I have to spend a good chunk of my life in close contact with a person like this. As an added bonus, it is hard to have a relatively normal conversation of any kind with my No Filter person, which, for reasons I can't go into here, I need to at least TRY to do several times each week. He/she occasionally exhibits all the social skills of a small child suffering from autism--except this ain't a kid. And he/she doesn't have any kind of mental disability as far I'm aware.

So I end up sitting mutely through this person's commentary to third parties standing three feet away from me about, for example, his/her ex-flame which his/her spouse is still SO jealous of (as if I give a shit). And this person's odd criticisms of his/her own children. And his/her really unfunny jokes about current events (that situation in Austria where the father imprisoned his own daughter in the basement and forced her to bear 7 of his children--THAT was a real knee-slapper...)

They ought to give classes in social skills for adults. Except the people who need them the most, like this person, probably wouldn't go.