Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Somebody needs to clean up this mess

Being in kind of a self-flagellating mood last night, I tuned in to the Chimp's final State of the Union address. Normally I like to spare myself the agony of listening to him speak but I was curious about how he would try to position his "legacy."

The thing that jumped out at me was the overall tone of, "We need somebody new to take charge and clean up this mess." Regardless of the topic, he implied that things have been screwed up long enough, and now, by God, somebody better do something about it.

Um, who the hell has been in charge for the last seven years? This is an inconsistency that will NEVER be pointed out by our broken, pathetic media.

Also, I loved that there was exactly one reference to the Hurricane Katrina aftermath -- that some conference or other is going to be held soon in New Orleans. I guess that means things are all hunky-dory down there now.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I knew I loved Brattleboro

This weekend we visited our awesome friends in Brattleboro, Vermont. There was a birthday party for my friend's husband, attended by about 20 adults and 10 kids, so the Peanut was beside herself with glee. As always happens when we get together with these people, the Peanut and our friends' two little girls ran amok for the entire weekend, scattering stuffed animals and crayons and approximately 50 million My Little Pony figurines in their wake. There were many wardrobe changes ("Look what I found in my summer clothes drawer! I'm putting on my Easter dress!") and dramatic performances ("Look at us -- we're ballerina fairies!")

When, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night, the Peanut and the other 3-year-old announced that they were tired and wanted to go to bed, we grown-ups were actually naive enough to believe they meant it. "They've worn themselves out. They'll crash now because the sugar's worn off," we said.

Finally at midnight, after each of us had made about 50 trips upstairs to bellow, "That's it! NOW you girls have to get to sleep!!" there was silence, when our friends' little girls both crashed in the older girl's room, and the Peanut declared that after all that she wanted to sleep with me and Mr. Fraulein. At which point she got in bed between us, kicked us in the head for 20 minutes, and then went to sleep.

Ten minutes later it was 7 a.m., and the Peanut's presence was requested: the Moose Parade that all the girls had been planning the night before was about to get underway. (When you live in Vermont, apparently you end up with a lot of stuffed animal, uh, mooses.) So she bounded out of bed like she'd been sleeping for 12 hours, and they all started thundering around the house once again.

So all in all it was another excellent Brattleboro weekend, complete with a pictureque light snowfall, which we watched from our friends' dining room as we ate breakfast yesterday morning.

And then this morning I read Bob Cesca's blog and saw this, which only confirms the general fabulousness of Brattleboro.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How's your 401K doing now?

So it's official: they broke the economy. Just like Reagan. Just like Bush the first.

Compare and contrast: in the 90s, we weren't at war with anybody, and our 401Ks were booming. Today we're stuck in a pointless war that will probably go on for years if not decades in some form, and the stock market is tanking.

Back then, every quarter I'd get my 401K statement in the mail and marvel at how much money I had made. Clinton screwed an intern. Bush II has screwed the entire country, and we'll continue to be screwed for years to come because of eight years of this nightmare. Heck of a job!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A grave threat to public health

Weapons-grade snark from TRex today:

Indeed. It is a public health hazard that should be stopped at once! No more! No more shall the health and safety of our children be jeopardized by a bunch of men who want to dress up in their funny outfits and violently slam into and clutch at each other, crawl all over each other out in a big field, then slap each other on the ass and go shower together.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Imagination kicks in

The Peanut has been telling a lot of stories lately. For people like me (a professional writer/book nerd/amateur Virginia Woolf scholar/former journalist) and her daddy (an engineer with a novel in progress) this is a pretty exciting development.

First there were the bananas. Specifically, the Silly Talking Bananas who live in our house and one of our neighbors' houses. There are 10 of them, five boys and five girls, and they apparently come and visit the Peanut and her stuffed animals during the night. "Me and Main Ted and Pink Ted and Day Care Bear laughed and laughed," she says, using the names her daddy and I have for some of her teddy bears. Sometimes we have to hurry home from school because the bananas are waiting to play with us.

Then today there was a monster, which the Peanut vanquished with the help of her purple origami crane. There for a while she was very afraid of the dark, and Mr. Fraulein made a bunch of cranes to sit on her dresser and watch over her as she sleeps, just as his mother had done for him when he was little. She decided to bring the purple crane to school, and she cradled it in her lap as she sat in her car seat.

"My crane can shoot fire from its nose like a dragon," she said. "The monster is coming very close to my school, and he wants to get my friends, but they're hiding. So the crane is shooting fire at him but the fire won't get my friends. And then the monster goes up in the air."

"I see," I respond. "So is the monster gone now?"

"He went up in the air. But my crane will chase him away if he comes back."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Terrible and random

My friend said she woke up one morning and half her body was numb. A month and a half of medical examinations followed. Then the doctors told her she has MS, although it's unclear yet how severe the disease will be. It might end up having relatively little impact, if she's lucky. Meanwhile they wait--she and her husband and her 4- and one-year-old boys--to find out the prognosis.

So terrible and so random. Multiple sclerosis is apparently extremely rare. She was just unlucky. What she needs now is a cosmic reversal, for the luck to flow back her way again so that she will have many many more years of chasing down those two little boys.

Such a thing is clarifying in so many ways. I've been considering my great good fortune anyway, lately, but hearing this kind of news from a good friend makes you so sad and, at the same time, so grateful for your own blessings.

Dear God, I think, I have had this and this and this. I got to study here and live here. I watched "His Girl Friday" in a freshman journalism class in college and said, holy Jesus, I want to do that! And I did it, at least for a while. It wasn't the New York Times, but still. I wanted to do it and I did it. I went on my honeymoon here (and here). My luck is overflowing--I'm hoping I can send some my friend's way.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Go read Laid Off Dad

Freeeeking hilarious. This guy needs a job writing for the networks or something. He is way funnier than most of the people they've got writing TV dialogue.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Our pathetic media

Is Hillary "weak" or "calculating" for crying on the campaign trail? And how freaking RIGHT am I that this woman will never be elected president? In this country? In this media environment? Not a chance in hell.

Speaking of our lousy media, am I the only person who noticed how lame it was that this past Sunday's "Parade" magazine, which is a cavalcade of crap under the best of circumstances, appeared with its outdated cover interview with the now late Benazir Bhutto completely unedited? Bhutto was killed a week and a half before the publication date, and still no mention of this was made by the Boston Globe. Now, I know they print these crummy inserts like "Parade" weeks in advance, but still, the least the Globe could have done was add a note to the front page, or another insert, to explain that fact. Totally lame and unworthy of a 1,000-circulation local weekly, let alone a major national daily.


Turns out the Globe did include a note about the Bhutto Parade article, but I missed it the first time around, so that's my bad. Still, my sense of what used to be the rules for good journalism tells me they should have pulled the whole issue rather than distribute totally inaccurate content.

Headline that made me giggle

"Crowd of Irate Ron Paul Fans Chase Hannity Out of Restaurant." Methinks the Ron Paul people and Sean Hannity's fans (his mom? maybe a few of his cousins?) deserve each other...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Holiday highlights

Dec. 23: The family Fraulein makes its annual Christmas trip to the wilds of north Jersey, where we rendezvous with my high school crowd and assorted kids, relatives and friends at my friend Meaghan's Festivus party. Here, we each consume our own weight in hors d'oeuvres and homemade Christmas cookies. The Peanut spends much of the evening giving another toddler the stink-eye until said toddler relinquishes a certain toy shopping cart. Then the Peanut spends the rest of the party pushing the shopping cart around. Fun is had by all!

Dec. 24: My mother makes three of the seven fishes, as she has done on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. I eat my own weight in stuffed squid. The Peanut asks if we can look outside for Santa, so we go out to the porch and spy a plane moving overhead. "Look, there's the reindeer!" I announce. The Peanut is very excited. We leave out milk and cookies for the big guy before putting the Peanut to bed.

Dec. 25: Nearly all of the Peanut's presents appear under the tree wrapped in purple wrapping paper. She is nearly as thrilled by the bows--all of which she insists on keeping--as she is by the presents, especially her new double doll stroller. We exchange lots of Etsy presents. We attend Mass at the Catholic church where I went as a kid, and agree that Episcopal church is more lively. Later we go to dinner at the awesome Berta's and eat our own weight in everything. Then we come back and the Peanut enlists my dad to help her play with all her new toys.

Dec. 26: We return to Massachusetts and say bye-bye to the horrific fire hazard otherwise known as the live Christmas tree we bought the first weekend in December. I begin the several-months-long process of vacuuming up needles.

Dec. 29: At long last, we head to Best Buy to pick out a replacement for our (literally) 20-year-old TV. We buy a flat screen--the big gift Mr. Fraulein and I decide to give to each other this year--and the contrast between it and the old clunker television makes me feel as though we have spent the last several years sitting in our living room watching a cave man etch rough drawings on stone. We proceed to spend the next few days watching old DVDs to see what we've been missing. Turns out, it's a lot. Did you know that you can see little shimmering force fields emerging from the aurors' wands in the Department of Mysteries fight scene in "Order of the Phoenix"? Presumably you did if you have a relatively new TV.

Dec. 31: We don't have a babysitter and neither do any of our neighbors, so we invite people to come to us. Thanks to Trader Joe's and its awesome frozen party treats, we are able to make it look like we put some effort into the whole thing, which of course we didn't. The Peanut spends the evening bossing around a two-year-old boy and making crayon drawings with a 9-year-old boy. The grown-ups debate whether anyone's family is truly "functional." "My entire family is cripplingly dysfunctional!" announces one friend, waving a lemongrass chicken roll in the air for emphasis. "That's just how it is." I ask: "So are you saying that in 30 years, the Peanut is going to stand around saying what a pain in the ass I am?" "Sure she will," he responds. "Everyone at some point thinks their mother is a pain in the ass."

The children eat their own weight in cupcakes from Party Favors. (Before serving the two-year-old, I had asked his parents whether it was OK for him to have one. They said sure, as long as he asked politely. Like I was going to say no to a toddler with curly ringlets, pointing at the cupcakes and saying "Pweese?")

Jan. 1: I turn 39 and we head out into the freezing rain ("Daddy, turn off the weather!" the Peanut said) to check out the ice sculptures on the Boston Common, and to have lunch at Skipjack's. Then it was back to normal life after that.