9/29/2006

Handing the reigns over to Ferlinghetti

TOTALITARIAN DEMOCRACY

Lawrence Ferlinghetti


The first fine dawn of life on earth
The first light of the first morning
The first evening star
The first man on the moon seen from afar
The first voyage of Ulysses westward
The first fence on the last frontier
The first tick of the atomic clock of fear
The first Home Sweet Home so dear
The sweet smell of honeysuckle at midnight
The first free black man free of fright
The sweet taste of freedom
The first good orgasm
The first Noble Savage
The first Pale Face settler on the first frontier
The first ball park hotdog with mustard
The first home run in Yankee Stadium
The first song of love and forty cries of despair
The first pure woman passing fair
The sweet smell of success
The first erection and the first Resurrection
The first darling buds of May
The last covered wagon through the Donner Pass
The first green sprouts of new grass
The last cry of Mark Twain! on the Mississippi
The First and Last Chance Saloon
The ghostly galleon of the half-moon
The first cry of pure joy in morning light
The distant howl of trains lost in book of night
The last new moon sinking
The last of the Mohicans
The last sweet chariot swinging low
The last hand caught in the last cookie jar
The last cowboy on the last frontier
The last bald eagle with nothing to fear
The last buffalo head nickel and the last buffalo
The first hippie heading for the hills
The last bohemian in a beret
The last true poet with something to say
The last Wobbly and the last Catholic Anarchist
The last living member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
The last Nazi
The last Mom and Pop grocery
The last firefly flickerng in the night

The first plane to hit the first Twin Tower
The last plane to hit the last Twin Tower
The only plane to ever hit the Pentagon
The birth of a vast national paranoia
The beginning of the Third World War
(the War Against the Third World
)

The first trip abroad by an ignorant president
The last free-running river
The last gas and oil on earth
The last general strike
The last Fidelista the last Sandinista the last Zapatista
The next political prisoner
The last virgin and the last of the champagne
The last train to leave the station
The next Great Depression
The last will & testament
The last welfare check for rent
The end of the old New Deal
The insecurity of Homeland Security
The last independent newspaper
printing the news and raising hell
The last word and the last laugh and the Last Hurrah
The last picture show and the last waltz
The last Unknown Soldier
The last innocent American and the first Ugly American
The last Great Lover and the last New Yorker
The last home-fries with ketchup-to-go
The last train home at midnight
The last syllable of recorded time
The last long careless rapture
The last independent bookstore with its own mind
The last best hope of mankind
The lost chord and the lost leader
The last drop of likker
The cup that runneth over quicker
The last time I saw Paris Texas
The last peace treaty and the Last Supper
The first sweet signs of spring
The first sweet bird of youth
The first baby tooth and the last wisdom tooth
The last honest election
The last freedom of information
The last free Internet
The last free speech radio
The last unbought television network
The last homespun politician
The last Jeffersonian
The last Luddite in Berkeley
The last Bottom Line and the last of Social Security
The first fine evening calm and free
The beach at sunset with reclining nudes
the lovers wrapped in each other
The last meeting of the Board
The last gay sailor to come aboard
The first White Paper written in blood
The last citizen who bothered to vote
The first President picked by a Supreme Court
The end of the Time of Useful Consciousness
The unfinished flag of the United States
The ocean’s long withdrawing roar

The birth of a nation of sheep
The deep deep sleep of Middle America
The underground wave of feel-good fascism
The uneasy rule of the super-rich
The total triumph of imperial America
The final proof of our Manifest Destiny
The first loud cry of America ├╝ber alles
Echoing in freedom’s alleys
The last lament for lost democracy
The total triumph of
totalitarian plutocracy

CODA

Cut down cut down cut down
Cut down the grassroots
Cut down those too wild weeds
in our great agri-fields and golf courses
Cut down cut down those wild sprouts
Cut down cut down those rank weeds
Pull down your vanity, man, pull down
the too wild buds the too wild shoots
Cut down the wild unruly vines & voices
the hardy volunteers and pioneers
Cut down cut down the alien corn
Cut down the crazy introverts
Tongue-tied lovers of the subjective
Cut down cut down the wild ones the wild spirits
The desert rats and monkey wrenchers
Easy riders and midnight cowboys in narco nirvanas
Cut down the wild alienated loners
Cut down cut down all those freaks and free thinkers
Wild-eyed poets with wandering minds
Soapbox agitators and curbstone philosophers
Far out weirdos and rappers
Stoned-out visionaries and peace-niks
Exiles in their own land!
O melting pot America!

9/26/2006

She's smart and funny, too



She's pretty gorgeous for a Monkey, don't you think?

4360



"Oh, yeah? You got a problem with breasfeeding in public?"

Actually, when I looked at the picture in better resolution, she didn't look quite so confrontational, but it did remind me of when I was breastfeeding Sio. (I breastfed Monkey, too, but it was a much more popular choice by then.)

I used to nurse Sio in public all the time, and I was just waiting for someone to give me a hard time about it. I really wanted to fight over it. But no one ever noticed that I was nursing her when I did in public. Or maybe it's just because I live in New England, and even if people noticed, they'd mind their own business. But it never happened. I was always welcome to whip out one of my DDs (not that I did, I'm not terribly modest, but I wasn't keen to have everyone see my boobs, either.)

9/22/2006

Need to sooth my rage

How about a Friday morning Basset Hound picture?

Basset Hound with ears in the upright position

No wonder we liberals always lose...

Both political parties are working for the Republicans.

If this is the shit we're going to see from the Democrats, I see no motivation to contribute my time or my money. They aren't working *for* me, and they aren't working *against* the people who are fucking up every last little thing that makes this country great. I'll happily put my effort into unseating Lieberman, a contributor to Democratic malaise, and I'll throw a few bucks towards the challengers of Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson.

But I don't see why I should vote for any incumbents.

9/18/2006

When I get home from work & school tonight...

...I am so going to take this test.

I'm not a fan of standardized tests, even though I'm very good at taking them. I can point to myself as an example of how these tests don't necessarily measure any proficiency on the part of the test taker aside from one's proficiency at taking tests. I was a pretty terrible student in high school, graduated in the middle of my very small class, and was barely competent in basic math at the time I graduated. But I got a 790 on the verbal portion of my SAT with absolutely no preparation, and when I took the essay portion of the SAT (or perhaps it was actually the written portion of the CMT), I got a perfect score.

We will not discuss the math portion. Suffice it to say that I correctly answered more than half of the questions. But not much more.

Random Flickr Blogging: IMG_1272



Every year on Good Friday, the Second Church of Christ liked to reenact Jesus' walk to Calvary, but since the average age of the parishoners was 75, they got Bud, the deacon who worked in a warehouse, to bring his forklift to carry the crosses for the participants.

9/16/2006

In some strange way

The opening song from Once More, With Feeling (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical) represents how I'm feeling these days. Not exactly, but I understand the desire to find some meaning, to feel something.

How to waste time

If I ever write an autobiography (and I plan to, after certain guilty parties are dead and buried), I think it should be called "How To Waste Time". I'm amazed at how a whole day can pass without my accomplishing anything. It helps that one kid was sleeping over her aunt's house (Monkey) and the other kid was at work. Here are ways I wasted time today:

1. YouTube - today, I watched the original unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was not good, although there were seeds of goodness sprinkled here and there. I also watched several blooper reels from Buffy and Angel, the Serenity blooper reel, and various videos of various teenagers setting scenes of Buffy and Angel to various annoying songs.

2. Getty Images - My SIL and I have agreed to reduce the amount of cable channels we currently have. For her, this means she'll be going to basic. For me, I have to get rid of digital cable, which means I have to get rid of Bravo, which means I won't be able to see the last couple episodes of Project Runway. But since yesterday was Project Runway's show at Olympus Fashion Week, I was able to check Getty Images for the collections of the final 4 designers. My vote for winner: can we bring Jay McCarroll back and declare him the winner again? I lurved his collection. Of the actual final 4 on Project Runway 3...I don't know. I guess Jeffrey, which I hate to say, because he's such a dick.

3. The mall - well, I didn't go to the mall, I just went to the Barnes & Noble that is in the mall. I picked up Deborah Lipp's Ultimate Bond Fan book (although I'm not a Bond fan, I can't resist buying books by people I know, even when I only know them virtually), and a bargain book called Novel Voices, which is a compilation of interviews of several authors giving advice on writing. I also listened to a ton of music in the music section, flipped through a couple of magazines, and looked at a bunch of photography books, hoping to find some inspiration for my National Novel Writing Month novel (for which I am currently idea free).

4. Frequent checking of frequently read blogs. No explanation needed.

5. Go through the fliers for the various local grocery stores, but retain no helpful information about which place is the best one to shop at this week.

6. Call everyone you know. This worked for my mom, who I spent a good hour on the phone with, but everyone else went straight to voice mail.

Things that I should have done: some laundry; sifting through clothes, particularly Monkey's since she's outgrown clothes I bought 3 weeks ago; finish painting the kitchen; mowed the lawn; cleaned the refrigerator; any cleaning at all anywhere in the house would have been good, actually.

And now I'm tired and ready to go to bed. I won't of course, but I should.

It's all part of life's rich pageant

As I prepare to enter my late 30's* (which will happen on November 4th, and I love it when people remember my birthday, no matter how old I get), I am starting to experience some of the fun things that happen as you get older. In a way, it's like re-experiencing puberty. Let me elaborate.

Hair growing where it has never grown before!

I was brushing my hair back from my face today, and one strand just wouldn't stay behind my ear. I tugged on it and I realized that it was growing out of my earlobe. I pulled it out, but I know it will be back.

Your body goes through lots of changes!

In my case, my body has started to make strange noises. Specifically, my knees are making this noise that sounds sort of like a kernal of popcorn popping. This can't be good.

Your skin needs extra attention

As a natural redhead with lots of freckles who spent her childhood summers unprotected from those UV rays, I am prone to moles, and I seem to get new ones all the time now. (I am familiar with the ABCD's of mole identification, so I will get anything suspicious checked out).

*I'm 36, which my friends and family have mutually agreed qualifies one as being in one's mid-30s.

9/15/2006

Songs that make me cry

Deborah tagged me with this question: what are five songs that make you cry, and why?

1. The Town I Loved So Well

Written by Phil Coulter about his hometown of Derry, in Northern Ireland.

In my memory I will always see
the town that I have loved so well
Where our school played ball by the gasyard wall
and we laughed through the smoke and the smell
Going home in the rain, running up the dark lane
past the jail and down behind the fountain
Those were happy days in so many, many ways
in the town I loved so well

But when I returned how my eyes have burned
to see how a town could be brought to its knees
By the armoured cars and the bombed out bars
and the gas that hangs on to every tree
Now the army's installed by that old gasyard wall
and the damned barbed wire gets higher and higher
With their tanks and their guns, oh my God, what have they done
to the town I loved so well



I think we had a recording of The Dubliners singing this one, but I will always hear it in my mother's voice.

2. Edelweiss

Edelweiss, Edelweiss,
Every morning you greet me,
Small and White,
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me..

Blossoms of snow may you bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow forever

Edelweiss Edelweiss
Bless my home land forever


A sweet melody and simple, hopeful lyrics gain an added poignancy when you realize that Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics when he knew he was dying of stomach cancer. This is also a personally meaningful song for me because it's one my father would always request me to sing to him. I don't have a lot of great memories of my father from my childhood, but I loved to sing to him.

3. The Letter from Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Stephen Sondheim

Most Honorable Judge Turpin
I venture thus to write you this
Urgent note to warn you that the
hot blooded, young sailor
has abducted your ward, Joanna
from the institution where you
so wisely confined her.

But hoping to earn your favor,
I have persuaded the boy to lodge her here tonight
in my tonsorial parlour, in Fleet Street.
If you want her again in your arms
hurry, after the night falls.

She will be waiting. Waiting.

Your obedient humble servant, Sweeney Todd


This piece kills me, just kills me. This is where Todd, who at this point has done some evil deeds but still has your sympathy, crosses the line. His thirst for vengeance is now stronger than his quest for justice. He is willing to betray his daughter, his own flesh and blood, to satiate his desire for vengeance.

And the plaintive phrase, sung by a high tenor voice, on the line She will be waiting...please, find a recording, and listen to it. It is heartbreaking.

4. Winter by Tori Amos

"Winter"

Snow can wait
I forgot my mittens
Wipe my nose
Get my new boots on
I get a little warm in my heart
When I think of winter
I put my hand in my father's glove
I run off
Where the drifts get deeper
Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown
I hear a voice
"Your must learn to stand up for yourself
Cause I can't always be around"
He says
When you gonna make up your mind
When you gonna love you as much as I do
When you gonna make up your mind
Cause things are gonna change so fast
All the white horses are still in bed
I tell you that I'll always want you near
You say that things change my dear



The first time I heard this song was at my youngest sister's spring Pops concert. One of the students in her class sang the song while she accompanied herself on the piano. And I sat in the stuffy school auditorium with tears pouring down my face.

There's no real secret to why this song makes me cry. It's the question When you gonna love you as much as I do. Maybe it won't make me cry anymore when I find the answer to that question.

5. Anyone Can Whistle by Stephen Sondheim

For this song, it is only a specific recording that makes me teary eyed. The recording is from 1973 called Sondheim Evening: A Musical Tribute (aka the Scrabble album). The record features Sondheim singing his own song. Sondheim is not a great singer, as he would be the first to admit, but there is something poignant and so appropriate about the great composer/lyricist singing the sad lyrics about how love might be the most difficult thing we ever attempt.

Anyone can whistle, That's what they say-
Easy.
Anyone can whistle, Any old day-
Easy.
It's all so simple:
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me why
Can't I?
I can dance a tango,I can read Greek-
Easy.
I can slay a dragon Any old week-
Easy.
What's hard is simple.
What's natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me
How to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me.



I don't know much about Sondheim's love life, but the way he performs the song says that he hadn't figured out how to let go, lower his guard, learn to be free. I find it moving and terribly sad all at once.

This is just scratching the surface of the many, many ways to get me to cry. I'm a soft touch, and I cry a lot, as my children will tell you.

9/14/2006

Allow me to pimp my husband...

Loki's on fire over at Burb Rocking - two posts in two days! Three posts in one month!

(Trust me, that's on fire for Loki - he is a perfectionist and he spends a great deal of time crafting his posts. You should check them out and give him some love.)

9/13/2006

School days

Sio, Monkey and I are all back in school again. Sio is a senior, Monkey is in 4th grade, and I'm...I'm not sure where I am, but I guess I'm roughly halfway through an AS degree program.

On Mon. & Wed. evenings, I have Music History and Appreciation. So far, I am in love with this class. We're supposed to be learning music from the Medieval period through the Baroque, but we've been talking about basic music theory and terminology, which is great for me because I'm a singer first and a not-quite-a-musician* second. This is the background stuff that I've always glossed over. I already feel like I've learned enough to make the class worth the money I paid for it. Plus we've been listening to some cool music - I never knew that Frere Jacques was a Mahler tune!

On Tues. evening, I have Madrigals, and for a change, we're actually singing madrigals this year. Well, motets, since I think they are all sacred songs, but in the madrigal style. My wonderful, adorable, terrific teacher is back again this year, and I'm in platonic love all over again.

Sio has a very challenging schedule this quarter, except for Drug Education, which is a requirement for graduation, and is a complete waste of her time. Although it's called Drug Education, it's actually health class, and 40% of the time in class is spent on CPR training, and Sio is already CPR certified. There is also a "scared straight" component which will be useless for a kid who is happy to be straight (I'm using the term in the context of drug and alcohol consumption...in terms of sexuality, Sio is straight but not narrow). She's taking AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP European History, AP English, Honors French 4, and Chorale. I think that's it, but IMO, that's plenty.

Monkey looooves 4th grade, although she's already received a dreaded green slip for not handing in homework. We'll get through this, I'm sure - her attitude towards school has increased dramatically in the positive direction since last year. We went to curriculum night tonight, and I was pleased with everything I heard. Monkey is also thrilled that she starts orchestra this year. She chose the viola for her instrument, which is great, because we already own one (Sio's first instrument was the viola). It's kind of a stressful year at her school - the 5th graders are staying for another year while a new 6th grade school is built, so there are a lot more kids in the building, and the longtime principal retired so they have a new principal. I think that's more stressful for the teachers than the students, so I hope they can survive the year.

*this is actually a very generous description for what I do.

9/11/2006

Driftglass

Must read.

five years

It's kind of late in the day for a remembrance of 9/11, but I just sat down to think about what I was doing that day, as is inevitable on a day of shared sorrow.

I was in a training class in Rhode Island. My friend and co-worker Lorraine and I were in a darkened room, watching the trainer walk through the very basics of Oracle DB when another trainer interrupted to tell us that planes had flown into the WTC. Needless to say, I know shit about Oracle DB.

At the time, I worked for a cable company, so the rooms were all wired for cable. We turned on the TV and watched the footage on a 6 foot projection screen. I'm sure I can't remember what I thought at first, but I called my mother, who used to work on Wall Street and has 3 siblings who live and/or work in Manhattan, to see if everyone was okay. She said it was impossible to get through, but she felt in her heart that they were all okay (and her heart was right, everyone was far removed from downtown Manhattan at the time.)

I remember hearing that the planes came out of Boston, and that police were after some people in Providence. There was a lot of confusion, and I think people were worried that the WTC and the Pentagon were just the first of many attacks.

Lorraine and I went outside. It was surreal, to look up into that sky and to try to fathom what was happening in New York.

On the way home, Lorraine and I listened to the radio, and we heard the names of people who had died on the flights. And we both cried.

And then I cried some more, because if ever a president was not up to the challenge, it was George W. Bush. I felt sick inside about the deaths of that day, and I felt a creeping nausea about what was going to happen next.

And I remembered hearing that James Baker, Bush family fixer, had once said "fuck the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway."

And I wondered - oh, so cynical, I know - but I wondered: did someone in the Bush administration say the same thing about New Yorkers?

And I wondered - distressingly cynical, I know - but I wondered anyway: did the Bush administration *let* this happen?

I hate thinking that way. I don't like conspiracy theories. But that thought comes into my head every now and again. Maybe I'm just a die-hard cynic. Or maybe it's true. Maybe not as sinister as I imagined - dark-hearted men in suits sitting around a boardroom table, discussing in whispers how a terrorist event could be just what Bush needed to turn his ratings around. Maybe it was just as simple as neglecting the truth in favor of what they wanted to hear. The end result is the same.

9/10/2006

Blaming America

Vice President Cheney said today that the ongoing national debate over the war in Iraq is emboldening adversaries to believe they can undermine the resolve of the American people to complete the U.S. mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They can't beat us in a stand-up fight, they never have, but they're absolutely convinced they can break our will [and that] the American people don't have the stomach for the fight, " Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press .

The vice president said U.S. allies in Afghanistan and Iraq "have doubts" America will finish the job there. "And those doubts are encouraged, obviously, when they see the kind of debate that we've had in the United States," Cheney said. "Suggestions, for example, that we should withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq simply feed into that whole notion, validates the strategy of the terrorists."



So what Cheney is saying is that by using the freedoms our Constitution guarantees, we are emboldening our enemies. Talk about blaming America.

9/07/2006

maybe I'm the only one

I totally get what Digby said about how a distorted story now will affect the way the history of 9/11 is written and remembered. I think it's worthwhile to make some effort to either get this movie pulled or corrected. I won't stand in anyone's way, and I will send my own letter to ABC and Disney and my lcoal affiliate. Truth matters.

But I would *prefer* to be talking about the paths taken *after* 9/11 as we head into the election season. As I said over at Shakespeare's Sister, one of the real tragedies of 9/11 is, was, and ever shall be the Bush Administration's *response* to the events of that terrible day. So maybe we need to have two fronts going on the subject. Clinton's successes or failures at fighting terrorism are irrelevant at this point, because Bush was in office in August of 2001, when the PDB was presented to him; and Bush was in office on September 11, 2001, when our fighter jets were not sent out at the first hint of a coordinated hijack attempt; and Bush is the one who decided that going to war was the best way to defeat terrorism; and the Bush administration pulled back on our efforts in Afghanistan to go snipe hunting in Iraq; and the Bush administration was in charge when OBL escaped at Tora Bora.

It was George W. Bush's administration that set aside the Geneva Convention and let our country become a nation that tortures. It was the Bush administration that decided to go beyond the bounds of our legal system to spy on American citizens. It's the Bush administration that has secret CIA jails, where god knows what happens to who knows who. And every disastrous choice, every wrong-headed domestic policy, and every mind-bogglingly stupid foreign policy, since January of 2001, has been the responsibility of the George W. Bush administration.

Let's not forget that, either.

9/05/2006

Ok Go

I know you've already seen these, but I cannot get enough of either one of them.



OK GO on treadmills



OK GO dancing in the backyard

I think they must put something addictive in their catchy tunes.

9/04/2006

Last day

Today was the last day of summer around here - tomorrow morning, Monkey will get up extra early, preen in front of the mirror for an hour or two, and have her first day of fourth grade. She's had her first day of school clothes picked out for months, and I mean that literally. She got a new backpack, and all the supplies her teacher specifically requested the students have.

It was a pretty anti-climactic end of summer. Ordinarily, we would try to make the last weekend fun by going to the beach or on a whale watch, but it was too cold and rainy and people (read: Sio) were too busy to manage either one this year. Instead, I cleaned (I rediscovered the dining room table!) and putzed around the house, Sio played World of Warcraft when she wasn't at work, Loki slept and drank some Boddington's, and Monkey rode her bike and got absolutely filthy playing with her cousins.

Sio is supposed to go back to school on Wednesday, but we're all a little skeptical. As of last weekend, several portions of her school were without a roof. The new wing doesn't appear to have walls yet, so I don't know where the freshman are going to go. She'll probably spend the bulk of her senior year ducking ladders, avoiding wet paint, and detouring around construction areas. And she thinks the drama club is doing Barnum, which may be more pain than she can take for her senior year.

But soon enough, she'll be filling out college applications and writing her essays, and I'm sure the last day of her high school career will be here before we know it.

random flickr blogging IMG_6074




I've been here. Twice. The first time, I was in college. My madrigal choir was on tour in England and Scotland, and we drove over a bridge parallel to the Tower Bridge on our way to our final gig, at London Symphony Hall. It had been a rather dreary morning, after an atypically warm and sunny trip overall, and we got to the hall and performed all our pieces. Our last number was this really uplifting gospel number, and as we sang, the clouds parted and we saw a rainbow.

The second time, my cousin Mick* was giving us his Whistle Stop tour of London, which included a visit to Ally Pally, County Hall, a bridge that is the popular choice for suicide attempts, the various bars where he saw various bands before they hit the big time, and the Tower Bridge, where Mick was a nervous wreck as Monkey leaped and jumped and hopped around.

*Mick is married to my actual cousin, Eileen, but I love Mick like he was a brother. One of my favorite people in the world. He took great care of us when we were in England a few years ago.