-ShakerConEast- TartFest - Hotel Deal


$129 per night a AAA 4 Diamond hotel in the Wall Street District.

Damn the non-working link! Check Travelzoo's Top 20. The deal is good for weekends through February 28th.


Quickies about Christmas 2006

1. Monkey was fairly ill on Friday, and sick enough on Saturday that we took her into the doctor's office. She had a fever of 101 and a terrible cough, but the doctor said her lungs were clear. He said to give her some Robitussin and plenty of fluids. We went home, and Loki went out shopping. There was nothing on TV, so I put on two shows I had recorded from PBS, Judy Garland Duets and Liza with a Z. This further cements my standing as a gay man, albeit a particular stereotype of a gay man.

2. Sio had a customer who got mad at her when she said "Happy Holidays" to him. She explained that she was trying to construct a friendly greeting that would be inclusive of all, believers and non-believers. He had no response.

3. The rather conservative middle-aged woman who sits next to me in the choir loft practically had an apopletic fit when Rev. Right-Wing started to suggest that, were Mary pregnant with Jesus today, she probably would terminate the pregnancy. I am not coming back to sing after this church year is over. I can't take this guy anymore.

4. What was your favorite Christmas gift? Here's a picture of mine:

5. We played Rummy Royal today after we ate. I had amazing poker hand after amazing poker hand, including my first ever straight flush, which kept netting me .05 pots, since we were only playing for pennies. But when we played showdown for the $1 plus on the King/Queen and 6-7-8, I got diddly squat. I ended up losing about .90 cents.


4 truths and a lie

ANSWER: Surprisingly, the correct answer is the only number that no one picked. I did once accidentally hit a beehive with a baseball bat, which netted me about 12 stings, but the event I described in #3 actually happened to my cousin Kevin.

I didn't talk to the school psychiatrist because I was in surly teen angst mode. I was a cheerleader, albeit a reluctant one, for 3 years (my younger sister wanted to be a cheerleader, and my mother didn't want her to do it herself, so I joined the squad, too.) I was in Hair, and I did the nude scene, and we sold out nearly every performance in a 125 seat theater for a 6 week run, so lots of people have seen me naked, however briefly. And as for story #5, the first time I went to Ireland, I was very excited to see the baby chickens. I managed to catch one, and I was so excited that I did indeed squeeze the life out of the poor thing. I felt terrible, and I have such a clear memory of my father taking the dead chick from my hands and tossing it into a field of thistle.

I've been tagged by Sis.

1. When I was a freshman in high school, I got caught forging my mother's name on a permission slip by my religion teacher. In addition to getting detention, I had to see the school psychiatrist, but I refused to talk to her.

2. Despite my hip displaysia, I was a cheerleader for the town football team for three years.

3. When I was about 11 years old, I accidentally fell into a wasp nest and got stung about 40 times.

4. Because I was in a production of the musical Hair, over 1100 people have seen me naked.

5. When I was three years old, I squeezed a baby chicken to death in my hands, because I was so excited that I caught it.


Not since the 70's

has a combination as bizarre as Chris Funk from The Decemberists, Peter Frampton, Eliot Spitzer, and Henry Kissinger appeared on one show.


A great compliment

We spent a good chunk of yesterday cleaning our living room to make room for a Christmas tree, which we agreed we would buy today. But when I got home from singing, Sio was still in bed, not feeling well, Loki was sleeping off the 3rd shift, and Monkey was doing homework. When she finished her math, we tried to see if anyone wanted to come with us to get our tree, but it was just me and her.

As we were driving to the tree farm, Monkey told me that she loves going out with me because we have so much fun. That made my day.


I don't photograph well, either as the subject or the person behind the camera. But here is a photo of yours truly. No make-up, my hair is not done, and I'm not entirely convinced that this is actually the face I see in the mirror.

Thank you! Thank you! You Really Like Me!

As you know doubt have read by now, Time Magazine has named ME Person Of The Year. Those of you who are surprised by this news clearly have not kept up with my scintillating and provocative commentary on my music history class, my ability to recognize talent by linking to other, better writers than I, and my YouTube obsession with Ben Kweller.

I've been passed up by the Weblog awards, and ignored by the Koufax awards, but damn it, my Time has come!


Perspective, dude

Last night, I was suffering from insomnia, as I occasionally do, and so I flipped through my DVR list to see if there was anything I wanted to watch. I had recorded, on a whim, the A&E movie "Wedding Wars", primarily because Sean Maher from Firefly was in the cast.

The movie was silly, and possibly even borderline offensive. All the gays in the movie were hairdressers, wedding planners, waiters, florists - except for Sean Maher, who is a state prosecutor, but we learn early in the movie that he cannot catch, which is some kind of fun double entendre, I'm sure, but made me roll my eyes - I bet he was terrible in gym. Although the payoff at the end....no, it was just stupid.

Not in the eyes of Peter LaBarbera, the man who cruises gay bars so you don't have to.

I would comment on the level of insecurity one must have about their own sexuality to make an entire career out of basically saying "I'm not gay!", but LaBarbera honestly just makes me laugh. More than Wedding Wars did. I mean, c'mon, we're supposed to believe that Uncle Jesse wants to marry Simon Tam, but he can't even muster the passion to give anything more than a tight-lipped "our lips are touching but we're not really kissing" kiss? If this is homosexual propaganda, I want to see some man-on-man open mouth kissing, at least. You know, like on Torchwood. Yeah, that's a kiss that would make me want to be a gay man.

I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

Who knew Windows had a movie editing tool?

Here is the newly shortened (or de-embiggened, if you prefer) version of Ave Maria


One Crazy Busy Day Down


Okay, one crazy busy day is done, only three more to go. Today: work, training, bid opening, training, work, dress rehearsal for school concert, actual church concert. Tomorrow: work, bid opening, bid tabulating (and it's a volatile commodity, so it has to be done fast and perfectly), after work concert for Sio. FSM, that's only Wednesday! Thursday I get a little break - not at work, but at after work. Friday we now have an extra rehearsal for our school concert from 3-5, so I have to find a way to get out of work, then the concert itself, and then the slow realization that any free time I gained will be quickly taken up by one or both of my children and/or the holiday season.

On the plus side, I did have time to talk to my friend Leslie today, although I'm kind of bummed that she turned down my offer to go see a porno this weekend. I don't know if I know anyone else who would go with me.

Anyway, as I wind down with my toasted almond (I was very generous with the booze, it's going to help me get to sleep, I am always keyed up after a concert), I will point you towards a hilarious story from my husband: Code Monkey (RIT) and Kelly's Saloon.


It went okay. My first solo (which I didn't record) wasn't so hot, it was really low and I was really warmed up, and it sounded better in my head then when I opened my mouth (although it got better as I went along.)

The Ave Maria trio went quite well, although I was seriously outmatched vocally by our awesome soprano section leader and our tenor organist. My voice is too untrained to really fit in well with them. I hate these moments when I realize that I may never be good enough to succeed at something I love so much. Maybe I should just sing for fun. Or maybe I just need more training.

Right now, YouTube is uploading the videos, although I may not be able to share them until tomorrow morning.

I watched them on my computer, and I was struck by the fact that in the recording, it's like we didn't sing with any dynamics at all on Little Lamb. I think we were just too loud for the whole song. I'll try to record Sio's a capella group performing this one for contrast - those kids are awesome. But really, our choir should be a lot better, considering a significant number of the singers are professionals. Maybe it's just the poor quality of the audio on my camera, but I'm a little disappointed their wasn't more dynamic contrast in this piece. Still, it's gorgeous.

I'll update when the vids are ready.
Shoot, can't put up Ave Maria. It's too big of a file. Any ideas, readers who are more technical savvy than I?

Concert Tonight

I have a concert tonight at the church. Every other year I've been there, the concert was called "What Sweeter Music", and we sang John Rutter's composition of the same name. This year, it's called "Sing, Noel", and it's a very British Xmas - Wexford Carol, Shepherd's Pipe Carol, The Holy Boy...everything sounds really super English. And I'm not thrilled about that, it's all so similar.

My favorite piece we are doing is Joel Phillip's Little Lamb - it is a gorgeous piece, and I hope to get Monkey to record it so I can put it up on YouTube later tonight. My next favorite piece is Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, I'm singing in a trio on Chorus 1. I'm having a huge mindsuckhole on the E flat at measure 6, though, and another mindsuckhole on the A flat at measure 18, and again at measure 43. For some reason, I cannot make myself hear these notes in my head before I open my mouth to sing. I'm just going to sit down at a piano before the concert and pound those notes into my head. I'll see if I can get Monkey to record that one, too. I'm sure I will resemble a rotund blue elf in my robe, standing next to our organist who is approximately a foot taller than me.

So wish me luck! And Sio, she's also in the choir, and she's incredible, I am always impressed with her musicianship.



Miramax is proud to present the new motion picture by the people who brought you Three Men and a Baby and its rib-splitting sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady: Two Guys and a Disembodied Head! Join wacky friends Gus and Jeff as they try to help their body-free-and-loving-it pal find laughs and love in this crazy, mixed-up world.


Favorite Car?
Don't have one

Favorite Car you've ever owned?
Honestly, I really liked our Dodge Shadow. The seats were comfortable, it had a good amount of power, it wasn't as embarassing in appearance as most of the cars we owned.

Car you would be embarrassed to be seen driving?
PT Cruiser. I'll go with Toast's choice. I hate them.

Next car you plan to buy?
While I would love to buy a hybrid, I am going to try to buy a very small used car, like a Chevy Aveo.

Next car you would buy for daily use if money were no object?
Prius or Civic hybrid.

What bumper stickers or other decorations, if any, do you have on your car?
None. Loki's old Saturn has a "May the Force Be With You" bumper sticker.

Average annual miles you put on your primary vehicle?
About 25-30K

Describe your driving style.
When I'm driving, I try to enter a state of zen meditation so I can not work myself up into a frothing rage. Doesn't always work.

Average highway cruising speed.
70 MPH.

Fastest you've ever driven?
90 MPH.

Do you race people at stop lights?

Will you cross a solid yellow or double yellow to pass someone?
Depends on the circumstances, but generally, no.

Do you tailgate or flash your high-beams at people in front of you?
No and no.

Worst accident you've ever been in?
Loki, Sio and I were heading north on Main St. in Portland, CT, which meant we had the right of way, and some dude on his cell phone didn't notice us and pulled out right in front of us. Killed our car, my left knee slammed into the dashboard, which jammed my already bad hip. It took me several days to straighten my leg out, and I was in hellish pain for all of those days.

About how many speeding tickets have you gotten?

Ever gotten a DUI/DWI?

What kind of car repairs and/or maintenance can you do?
I can change the wipers. I learned how to do an oil change (on a 66 Dodge Dart), but I don't do them.

Have you ever modified a car you own from stock?
Hahahahahah! No.

What do you listen to while driving?
CDs. The Clash, Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, "Once More, With Feeling", The Cure...all kinds of stuff.

Favorite driving song?
Rudy Can't Fail by The Clash

Do you use an air freshener in your car, and if so, what scent?Yes. Currently, coconut

Messy or clean?
Usually messy. Currently clean

When you and the spouse/significant other go out together, who drives?
Me, because I'm a control freak in the car. I am the worst passenger ever.


I probably shouldn't share this...

Sometimes, I write these little plays as I drive home. Tonight, I was turning a corner, and a couple of people didn't wait for me to finish my turn before they started crossing, and this triggered a little mini-play that had me getting hit by a car driven by Governor M. Jodi Rell, and she takes off, but there are witnesses, and even though she puts up a fight, she ends up having to pay me tons of money, because I have to have my leg amputated below the knee. And then I go on the campaign trail against her in the next election, stumping (quite literally) for her opponent, and Bill O'Reilly is furious and thinks I've stepped outside the boundaries of taste, and I go on his show and I slaughter him. Rhetorically speaking. He's a whimpering mess by the time I'm done with him.

This train of thought may be due to my head injury from Sunday.

Mars, bitches

Water on Mars. Evidence of water in the past few years. Awesome.


Dog Park

The hound and I visited the Wethersfield Dog Park today. Aside from the near-concussion I gave myself while opening the door of the car (I was bending down so I could grab Stinky's leash before he jumped out, and didn't pay attention to the door, and I slammed it - hard - into my head. I've got a nice bump) a good time was had. Stinky met another Basset Hound, 2 Great Danes (each had a different owner, and they were freaking enormous), a couple of Shetland Sheepdogs, a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier who found Stinky's long ears irresistable, a couple of labs, an Italian Greyhound who was humping all the other dogs (but mostly their legs), and assorted mutts of various sizes.

Stinky had a great time, and he actually came when I called him to go home. And he's basically been sacked out ever since then. I love the dog park, I hope someone in Manchester is working on building one here.

what does my birthday say about me?

via konagod

Your Birthdate: November 4

You have an extraordinary character - moral, responsible, and disciplined.
Your sincerely and honesty shine through in almost every situation.
Driven and focused, you rarely let your emotions get the better of you.
You're level headed and rational. People count on your to look at things objectively.

Your strength: Your unwavering loyalty and ethics

Your weakness: Your rock solid stubbornness

Your power color: Navy blue

Your power symbol: Shield

Your power month: April


The Importance of Make-up

If you are in line at the grocery store this week, you might see one of those gossip magazines that has the headline "The Importance of Make-up", alongside some pictures of female celebrities who had the impertinence to be photographed WITHOUT MAKE-UP!!! Naturally, they are monstrous and frightening looking, and I'm deeply offended that I had to look at women who looked their ACTUAL AGES while standing at the check-out.

I know anecdotes don't count...

But I live in New England. And I can go outside, right now, at 2:04 a.m. on December 1, 2006, and not have to wear a coat.


50 Questions

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? Why does my hair look so damn good in the morning? Seriously, when I wake up, my hair usually looks spectacular.

2. How much cash do you have on you? a bunch of pennies

3. What’s a word that rhymes with “DOOR?” Floor

4. Favorite planet? I'm personally attached to earth, but I think Jupiter is pretty cool.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? my sister-in-law

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? I don't know. I only have the default ring-tones on my phone. I know it isn't Fur Elise, though.

7. What shirt are you wearing? a light gray sweater with some geometric black beads around the neckline, which is a V-neck.

8. Do you “label” yourself? All the time.

9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing? No idea

10. Bright or Dark Room? Depends on the purpose.

11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you? I kind of adore her.

12. What does your watch look like? I can't wear a watch. Well, I *can* wear a watch, but I can't wear a working watch. I have some kind of electromagnetic thing going on that stops watches.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night? Downloading music onto my new MP3 player.

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? I have never received a text message.

15. Where is your nearest 7-11? About a quarter mile from our house.

16. What's a word that you say a lot? Well,

17. Who told you he/she loved you last? Sio.

18. Last furry thing you touched? Cugel, my basset hound.

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? I've taken approximately 20 naproxen in the past 3 days.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? Probably 4 or 5 rolls that will reveal pictures taken before Monkey was born.

21. Favorite age you have been so far? 12. That's kind of sad, isn't it?

22. Your worst enemy? entropy.

23. What is your current desktop picture? it's my desktop showing all the files I have on my desktop and all the shortcuts. No picture.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone? Big day!

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be? Flying.

26. Do you like someone? Duh, yes!

27. The last song you listened to? Not The Same by Ben Folds.

28. What time of day were you born? 10:10 a.m.

29. What’s your favorite number? 7

30. Where did you live in 1987? In Hebron, with my parents.

31. Are you jealous of anyone? Yes, although I try to reframe it as admiration.

32. Is anyone jealous of you? Probably - grass is always greener, and all that.

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? In an Oracle database training class in Cranston, Rhode Island.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Grumble and complain.

35. Do you consider yourself kind? Sometimes I am kind. Sometimes I'm not. I would like to be kinder.

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? on my ass, where I wouldn't have to look at it.

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? Francais

38. Would you move for the person you loved? Yes

39. Are you touchy feely? No. Well, with certain people (my kids, people I used to do theater with, my husband) I am, but mostly not.

40. What’s your life motto? I don't have one. Should I have one?

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? there is nothing that I have on me at all times.

42. What’s your favourite town/city? Paris

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? a newspaper

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? I sent out letters with Christmas cards last year.

45. Can you change the oil on a car? My father showed me how when I was a teenager, but I haven't done it since.

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her? my first love is living in Portland, Oregon, working at a food co-op, and hasn't changed a bit. Which is good and bad.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? I know a little about my grandparents on both sides. Nothing past that.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? Dress fancy?! The last time I got seriously dressed up - long sparkly gown dressed up - was at a holiday party that was held at least 5 years ago. Most recent fairly fancy dress up was for my cousin's wedding about 3 years ago. And regular dressing up - looking sharp, hair done, make-up done, etc. was back in May for my Sondheim concert.

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now? Always - my damn left hip.

50. Have you been burned by love? of course.


Quick Movie Review


I wanted to see this movie when it came out, but as usual, didn't manage to do so. I noticed it was in the Red Box DVD vending machine when I was at the grocery store, so I brought it home for a dollar.

I am not a fan of horror movies or gross out movies, but that all changes when humor is involved. One of the best moviegoing experiences I had in the past few years was Shawn of the Dead, and Slither was in the vein of Shawn. There's not a whole lot of exposition - the movie starts with a meteor plummeting to earth, and a lot happens before we meet a character who can tell us a little more (she almost ingests an extraterrestrial slug that turns people into zombies with a hive mind controlled by the squid-like Grant Grant, the unfortunate resident of Wheelsy who first encounters the meteor, which gives her insight into what's happening.)

It is a little bit gross-out - the mayor gets all "womby" after encountering SquidGrant and can't help himself from indulging in some human flesh, while still being aware of what he was doing. Lots of blood, some really fetid looking sets, but since our protagonists are the good hearted Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks) and the charming Bill Pardy (played by the always charming Nathan Fillion), I enjoyed this movie -a lot- even though you couldn't pay me to see a gross out movie.

If you rent or buy the DVD, I particularly enjoyed the "extra" called "Who Is Bill Pardy?" Hilarious.

Beautiful Girls and beloved pets

Madouc the foundling kitty
Sweet Pea and Monkey
Monkey & Sio

Madouc joined our family when she was not quite 3 weeks old. Somehow, she traveled in the wheel well of a truck from Union to Manchester, and we brought her home, the ugliest kitten ever. I know it's hard to imagine an ugly kitten, but my god, she was ugly. She had no fur on her face and she was just odd looking, with a tiny little head. She is suprisingly normal for a kitten taken from her mother way too young - her only bad habit is occasional bouts of bulimia (she stuffs herself like a pig and then purges, someplace where we'll be sure to find it, like on the stairs in the middle of the night). I hope to someday capture a movie of her playing with her rubber ball, I'm sure I can't articulate how delightful it is. I also hope to someday catch a picture of her in a pose we see sometimes: her rear end sticking out of the food container.

Sweet Pea is not our dog, she is Loki's sister's dog, and she is the sweetest beagle ever. She engages in an activity we now call "beagling": she pushes her head up under your chin while you pet her, snuggling up against you and making these hilarious little snorting and snuffing noises.


#18 on the list of reasons why people don't take peace activists seriously

Orgasms for Peace

(NYT link, if you get a login page, you can use gorevidal for the username and password)

I'm a fan of both orgasms and peace, but this just isn't going to help.


I went to this concert yesterday

It featured The Woodland Scholars, a 16 voice professional choir, and Sio's high school a capella group, The Roundtable Singers. It was held at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, a beautiful church across the street from Mark Twain's house. Despite lousy weather, the concert was very well attended.

I sat next to a lovely older couple. The woman and I got to talking during the intermission, and I told her about Rev. Right-Wing at the church where I sing. She told me she and her husband had left the church they had been members of for 40 years after the minister starting putting anti-homosexual messages in his sermons. She said Horace (her husband) stood up and told everyone who supported the anti-gay turn of the church that they could keep thinking they were good people because they went to church every Sunday, but to remember that the men who lynched blacks in the 30s and 40s went to church every Sunday. She told me I should talk to the Music Director at their church to see if they would have room for me in their choir.

I e-mailed him today. I told him I'm currently being compensated, but my real goal is to sing in a more open and affirming environment. Hopefully, I'll hear something good from him.

In the meantime, here's a snippet of the concert. Sio is in the next to the last row, second one from the right. The sound quality is not great - they sounded phenomenal in person. But they're still pretty good.


Sure, the 10 story walk-up had a great view, but some days, Marge wished she and Henry had an elevator.


Sunday Night Cat & Monkey Blogging

I think you won't find this kind of feature anywhere else on the internets.

First up: cat blogging. My cat likes Viva paper towels.

Next: Monkey blogging. My favorite little Monkey in a rare natural pose.


Commercials that bother

1. The commercial for the car that parallel parks itself. There is a simple science to parallel parking, and everyone who drives should have to learn it. Besides, the more power we give the machines in our lives, the closer we get to Terminator.

2. Every hair on my body stands on end when I see that Discover card commercial with the scissors that people are feeding their credit cards to as if they were birds. Can you imagine a world where scissors are all over the ground, pointy side up? Falling down would be a whole new experience - you'd either poke your eyes out or get an important body part impaled on the business end of a Fiskar.


Politics at the Pump

I went to the gas station to fill up my car tonight, and there was just me and one other customer there. We were on opposite sides of the same pump, facing each other, and he started up a conversation.

"Winter's coming," he said.

"Yeah, but it's been pretty nice for November so far," I replied.

"Don't forget to vote tomorrow," he said.

"Oh, I'm definitely voting tomorrow," I said.

He said, "My father-in-law is a Republican, he told me to make sure I remember to vote on Wednesday. I'm a Democrat, so I guess he thought that was funny."

"My father-in-law was a Republican his whole life, but he said he's going to vote for Democrats from here on out, because he hates George W. Bush so much," I said.

"Good for him!" the guy replied. "I'm 59 years old, there has never been a president as bad as Bush, he's just terrible. I'm voting for Lamont, too."

"Me, too."

"Lieberman is on their side, I just couldn't vote for him," he said. "Besides, you ever notice how the only time he shows up in Connecticut is when he's running?"

"Yeah," I said. "Plus, remember when he was running for the Democratic nomination in 2004 - he said he was going to move to New Hampshire and Florida for the length of the campaign."

"Is that right?" the guy said.

We were both done pumping gas by then. I told him to take care. He said "I hope there are a lot more people like me and you hitting the voting booth tomorrow."

Me, too.


It's my birthday

And as much as I would like it to have everyone make a big deal without me asking for it, I hate being disappointed, so please, I encourage you to make a big fucking deal about my birthday. Have some cake, send me presents, open a present yourself, blow out some candles, and get another day older, and now I'm officially in my late 30's.


idea I'm tossing around

I've come to realize that a big part of my obsession with Sio's college application process is due to the fact it was always my dream to go away to college, and I never got to do that. So I'm tossing around this kind of radical idea of upending my life and the lives of everyone I live with, and applying to Smith College's Ada Comstock Scholars program. I would want the whole college experience, living there, going to school full-time, etc. We could sell our house here, move to Northampton, we could buy a condo there or a smaller house, or we could even live in on-campus housing.

Am I crazy? Am I having an early mid-life crisis? Does it make sense for a 37 year old to start anew as a college student, to graduate, say at 42, with thousands of dollars in education loans? Is this doable? Is it a bad idea?


NaNoWriMo: Day 1

Well, it is nearly the end of day one of National Novel Writing Month, and I have successfully met and surpassed my goal of 1700 words - my novel is already 2031 words long. Of course, most of those words are utter crap, but that is not the point of NaNoWriMo, the point is merely to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I have no clear idea of exactly where my story is headed thus far, but the book will feature a political scandal (not sure if it will be merely financial or financial/sexual) that brings down a conservative politician, and the effect that has on his conservative wife who learns that their marriage was a sham. And there will be a trip to Ireland, because I want to reminisce about our trip to Ireland this past February. Otherwise, my characters are moving wherever my brain happens to send them as I'm typing.


Somebody Stop Me!

I have become one of those parents. Those overbearing parents who are obsessed with their child's college search. Maybe it's because I didn't get to go away to college myself, but I spend many of my waking hours looking for appropriate colleges for Sio to apply to, colleges that I think are cool, colleges that cost less than $40,000 per year, colleges in places I think Sio would like to live, even if she tells me "not so much".

I want to spend every weekend going on tours of colleges. I have signed up at College Confidential, sharing my daughter's "stats" other other, similarly obsessed parents, asking if they think she will get some merit aid, or wondering if she should re-take the SATs. (She probably could do better, but she won't retake them, and I understand, the very idea of a fill-in the bubble test that takes 4 hours...seems a little like hell.)

Every time I open my mouth now, she sucks in a little air, just knowing that I am about to suggest another college, or wonder if the bio department at College X is really that much better than the bio department at College Y, or share with her what some anonymous person wrote about the food at College Z, or tell her how active Greek life is at College W. And then the eye-rolling begins, and the girl has some serious peepers to roll around at her overbearing mother.

I don't know how I became this person, a person I've never been before. But here I am, and I need to stop. Or at least learn to not discuss all my research with Sio.


I have some advice for the Republicans who are angry at Michael J. Fox

Guys, I understand that you are upset that Alex P. Keaton, young Republican, has filmed ads for Democratic candidates. I know it must hurt to have the TV actor you probably emulated in the '80s be such a turncoat.

I mean, it's hard to look at the ad and not feel moved by his plight:

But I have to say, Republicans, you guys screwed up by having other celebrities come out against stem cell research. Patricia Heaton, the shrilliest harpy to ever harp shrillilly, just doesn't offer the same emotional heft.

No, you should be meeting emotional manipulation with emotional manipulation.

But I'm here to light a candle, not curse the darkness. So here's my counter-ad, created just for the Republicans.

I'm a stem cell.

I would like to tell you that I care deeply about Stem Cell Research, but I don't have a brain and can't think or feel or care about anything.

But look how cute I am! If you squint a little bit, maybe you could pretend that I have eyes and ears and a little mouth that makes goo-goo noises.

That's the great thing about stem cells - they have the potential to be anything.

Yeah, if I was in a uterus, had implanted, and I survived the one in four chance that nothing goes wrong while developing for 9 months, I could, potentially, eventually, be a baby.

It's almost a metaphor for the American dream, don't you think? Every American kid is told that one day they could be president. I'm a smear so tiny you can't see me without a microscope, but I could be a liver, a kidney, I could be a tonsil (which you folks have no compunction about removing and discarding).

And yeah, I could be the key to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease, or Alzheimer's disease.

There are some people who want America to be at the forefront of the kind of research that could lead to those cures.

And then there are the people who think I'm much more valuable than the people with Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease.

So look at me! Save me from reaching all my potential!


The army is getting seriously desperate

I picked up the phone this morning, and it was a recruiter from the U.S. Army. At first, I thought they were calling for Siobhan, which pissed me off because I asked to opt-out of having her info go to recruiters.

But no, they were calling for me. For a 36 year old fat broad with a bum hip. I told them I was too old, and he said "Oh, are you over the age of 42?"

42 years old. I know there are plenty of fit and in shape 42 year old people, but at 42, shouldn't you be at the phase of your life where you have school-age kids, are starting up the career ladder, etc.? Isn't that really a little old to be going to boot camp?

Bush's mis-management of the armed forces of this country should result in a generation of military folks voting for Democrats. It won't, because some people can't quite wrap their brain around the fact that criticizing a mis-use of our armed forces by sending them to war doesn't mean you don't support the troops.


The Beginning of the End of America

Keith Olbermann, American Patriot.

I don't watch the news much these days (gotta keep the blood pressure down), but this was a powerful special comment from Keith Olbermann.



I can't get enough Ben

More Ben

This time, with The Bens: Ben Folds, Ben Lee, Ben Kweller


More Ben Kweller

I'll admit it: I'm smitten*. I find him utterly charming, and his voice has this sweet vulnerability.

And it takes a lot of confidence to perform while surrounded by a bunch of people at close range like that. Love him.

*I am possibly 12 years too old to be smitten by anyone, but here I am.

What I'm listening to tonight

I'm listening to the very young man in the following video:

Ben Kweller - Ice Ice Baby


Man of the Year

I went to see Man of the Year with my sister-in-law today. She has 4 kids aged 6 or younger, so when Loki offered to babysit her kids*, she jumped at the chance.

Ordinarily, I would not spend my movie dollars on a movie like Man of the Year. Since money is tight and movies are expensive, you have to balance the pros and cons before you spend your cash.

Man of the Year CONS: Robin Williams, silly premise, Robin Williams.

Man of the Year PROS: Loki enjoyed it, Laura Linney.

SIL was quite keen to see it, so we went.

It was not quite what I expected. I expected that we would see Robin Williams being Robin Williams as he ran a campaign for president. I expected that it would start off as a joke, and he would get serious as the campaign went on. I expected that his opponent would be and evil politician, or at least have a Karl Rove-esque character working for him.

Instead, it was a third Robin Williams being Robin Williams, a third of a mildly tense thriller, and a third of me wondering why they hired so many actors who didn't say a single word. So Robin Williams was in the movie I was expecting, but turned on it's head: he started off as a comedian running a serious campaign, but became funnier and goofier as the race went on. Laura Linney, however, was in a tense political thriller, where people were breaking into her house and injecting her with drugs, and running her over when she's in a phone booth.

Things I liked: The Republican running in the three way race for the presidency got 0 electoral votes. Lewis Black was entertaining. I genuinely cared about what was happening to Laura Linney's character. I liked some of the political issues the movie brought up: the absolute essential importance of maintaining the integrity of the vote; how easy it is to screw with an election when there is no paper trail; that politicians who are beholden to corporate interests cannot have the best interests of their constituents in mind; how out of control expensive it is to mount a credible campaign.

Things I didn't like: While they brought up the subject of the importance of maintaining the integrity of the the vote, they also didn't have anyone nefarious who was deliberately trying to affect the outcome - instead, it was just a computer glitch. Also, when people found out about the incorrect election results, everyone seemed to agree they should just go forward with the incorrect results and fix the computer glitch later. They hired all these pretty people who were on screen for half the movie but maybe only had one line! I don't get it. And the juxtaposition of silly comedy/political thriller was just weird.

I don't have any sort of rating, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see this movie in the theater.

*Is he the best brother, or what?


Who Will Take My Place

Who Will Take My Place performed by The Duhks (it's track 6)

If they shoot me down to shut me down.
Who will take my place?
If they bring an army into this town.
Who will take my place?
If they rule this land and silence me,
when I'm laid out with injury,
when my words won't matter anymore,
who will take my place?

Revolution, you are not my own.
Who will take my place?
There are flowers painted on these stones.
Who will take my place?
When the silence of oppression dies,
overheard beyond the battle cries,
are the words the final compromise.
Who will take my place?

When the dogs of war are on the land,
who will take my place?
When you forfeit life to take a stand,
who will take my place?
When the dreamers fear the simplest thought.
When the bloodshed's taken all you've got.
When this world's an empty, creaking floor.
Who will take my place?

If they rule this land and silence me,
while I'm laid out with injury.
When my words won't matter anymore,
who will take my place?
Who will take my place?

written by Dan Frechette, inspired by Michael Collins. This song has been on my brain non-stop for the past couple of days. The rest of the CD, Migrations, is great, the Duhks female lead singer whose name is escaping me (Jessee Harvey?) has a terrific, smoky voice, but this song just kills me.

I never thought in all my days I would send my readers to Country Music Television, but please, check this song out. It's more Irish than Country.



I can tell you, without looking at the photographer's (JHunter2005) photostream that this was taken in Bath, England. I can tell you this because I have the exact same picture in my photo collection. So I'm *not* the only dork who took a picture of the still existing Roman plumbing.


brain blocked

If you are wondering why I've been so quiet, it's because my brain isn't working. Or, it's dammed up or something. At any rate, whatever is going on in there isn't managing to make it out.



Anyone else planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month this November?

The first time I participated was in 2004, and I lost because I gave up on my novel (which was utter crap) about 26,000 words in.

Last year, I won. I approached it in a totally different way - I plotted the whole novel out in January. There are some good parts of my 2005 novel, and some not so good parts. For one thing, my main character turned out to not be my main character after I started writing a secondary character who became much more compelling. And the whole story changed while I was writing, from being a fluffy, chick lit sort of book about a woman who is marrying a (closeted, in denial) gay man, to being an exploration of why the gay man was in the closet and in denial and why he wanted to marry this particular woman. I really should pull it out and dust it off and so some editing, because there is some good stuff in there.

This year, I was starting to panic because here it is, October, and I had no plot. I had an idea of a main character, a conservative, traditional housewife, with 2 kids, whose life gets turned upside down when her husband leaves her.

But with all the scandals (read: crimes) from the party of criminals and pedophiliacs, I decided that her husband is going to be a prominent local politician who gets caught doing something bad (I haven't decided yet whether they will be entirely financial corruption or a combination of sexual/financial wrongdoing), and her whole life gets turned upside down.

Anyway, if you are going to participate, we can be NaNo buddies! I'm registered as "maurinsky" at the NaNoWriMo website (which you'll find under the "Here I Am Now, Entertain Me" header on the right). It will be fun, stressful fun, but fun, nonetheless; and just imagine your sense of accomplishment when you finish!

No time to read?

No problem.

Daily Lit will deliver complete books (in small chunks) to your inbox.

I signed up to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by my man James Joyce. I've read parts of it before, but I've never read the whole book.



Loki and I used to rent a house in Glastonbury, and we encountered some unusual bugs there. One time, I was sitting on the couch in front of the picture window that faced the woods in the back, and Sio started to ask me "Can I have some more chi...." and trailed off in mid-sentence, a look of horror on her face. I turned around and there was a flying insect hanging in the window. The body of the bug was about an inch and a half long, but there was a long red...thing, I don't know what you'd call it, a tail, I guess, hanging off the end of the bug, that was at least 6 inches long.

Another time, I went down to the basement to do a load of laundry, and something caught my eye, in the corner beyond the dryer. I called Loki down to confirm that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. He did so. There was a large spiderweb in the corner, and trapped in the web was a snake. At first, I kind of freaked out, imagining a spider like our friend in the picture above. "What kind of spider eats a snake!" I wondered.

Loki suggested that the snake probably tried to eat the spider. I was okay with that. Snakes are less creepy than spiders.


Handing the reigns over to Ferlinghetti


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


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!


She's smart and funny, too

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


"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.)


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.


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.


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.


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


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-
Anyone can whistle, Any old day-
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-
I can slay a dragon Any old week-
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.


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.)


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Little Miss Sunshine

This won't be a huge movie review, because I'm still recovering from the emotional catharsis I experienced during this movie. Yes, it was hilarious, but parts of the movie also had me sobbing. (I believe I've documented this before, but just in case I haven't: I'm a big sap who cries at everything.) Excellent performances all around; the stand-out for me was Paul Dano, who played Dwayne, the teenage son of Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear.

Anyway - you should go see it if you haven't already.


Sometimes I feel like this:

    Tonight is one of those nights. I'm cranky, frustrated, angry, and I don't know what to do with myself. I think I need to lock myself in a room somewhere until I'm ready to be with human beings again.



If someone in your household just got a necklace, and she accidentally dropped it down the drain in the bathroom sink, how does one use a monkey wrench to open the pipe underneath the sink? And why does my pipe have no problem going righty-tighty but it refuses to go lefty-loosey?

Shining up some apples

Tomorrow evening I go back to school again.

I love school. In high school, I used to make a show of complaining about, just like everyone else did, but my favorite day of the week during my senior year was Tuesday: I had literary magazine before school (7-7:45 a.m.), regular day of school (7:50-2:00), drama club after school (2:30-6pm), and then an hour break until Chamber singers at 7pm, which went until 9:30 p.m. On the hour break, all of the drama club members who were also in Chamber singers would go out to dinner together.

I didn't love every minute of the day - my second period was History, which was an easy A for me, so I slept during that class. My third period was Chemistry, which I only survived because I chose my lab partner wisely.

Now that I'm studying something I love with a passion, I love school even more. Yes, I have 2 more pesky math classes to get through, but after that, it's nothing but music.

I had a dream last night

I had a dream that I had a device that showed me where my favorite bloggers lived, and it turned out that konagod only lived a couple of houses away from me. In my dream, I could tell that I was aware that konagod lived so close by for months, but I couldn't work up the courage to go say hello.

So one sunny day, I had a bunch of paper, and I decided that it would make a nice gift for konagod, so I stopped by his house. It was sort of a farmhouse, but in a very suburban neighborhood, with a small front yard that was close to the road. I stepped down the walk, climbed a couple of stairs to the front porch, and the door opened as I got there.

The person opening the door was me, with a child holding my hand. I told myself that konagod was going to be nothing like I expected, and I headed out. I also climbed the stairs, and when I got to the landing, I looked up, and there was konagod. Except in my dream, konagod was nothing like his picture, he was more like Anderson Cooper, with silvery hair and a blue dress shirt and gray slacks.

"Maureen!" he said, "we've been expecting you!"

Even in my dream, I was disappointed that I wasn't able to surprise konagod.

"This is txrad," he said, and he pointed me towards a giant of a man, someone who appeared to be about 7 feet tall, with a sweet baby face.

Dream konagod led me back down the stairs, and instead of ending up at the front door, we ended up in this big party room, with shag carpeting and a bar, and a band was set up. And then konagod turned into The Minstrel Boy, although he still looked like Anderson Cooper, and he started to play some blues music.

And then my alarm went off.


Going back to New Orleans

My cousin is one of the people who left New Orleans before Katrina hit. They had the resources to get out, so they did. They settled in North Carolina, where my aunt (his mother) lives.

My cousin is a devout Catholic, and his new church in NC took good care of him and his family. They helped him find a job and a house; they helped him find a special school for his 14 year old son, who has autism, severe enough that he doesn't speak. But now they are going back. His wife is a native of NO, and she wants to go back to her home.

My cousin is not dealing with this well. He doesn't want to go back. He doesn't want to sacrifice the new life he's built in NC. He doesn't want to be in the path of another hurricane. He doesn't want to have to try to start over again.

I don't know how my cousin feels about the way the Bush administration (mis)handled Katrina - both with the lack of response prior to the hurricane hitting and to the response to the levees breaking. I know that the thought of going back, of being in the same position again has triggered some kind of trauma in cousin, who is in therapy to deal with his anger about going back to NO.


Added to blogroll

My friend Hazel's blog, Let's Fold Scarves. I love that movie. And she shares my love (some call it obsession, but it's much more pure than that) for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

unnecessary warnings

When the cover art of your CD looks like this:

I would argue that the Parental Advisory Notice is superfluous.



I adored this song when I was a teenager. It's hard to feel like anything other than a caterpillar when you are a fat, lonely, confused 14 year old girl.


Bad News

I went to the mall tonight. But that's not my bad news.

Sio wanted to do a little back to school shopping, and I wanted to inquire about wireless service (fully 78% of the stores and kiosks in the mall are wireless providers), so we went to the local mall.

My bad news is this: the 80s are back.

Not only was I having acid flashbacks* just from stepping through the threshold of H&M, but I also saw individual people walking around in unfortunate clothes ripped from my adolescence.

I saw pegged pants.

I saw striped tops (bold color and white, bold color and neutral.

I saw Flashdance sweatshirts.

I saw Gauchos, people. Gauchos. And I'm not talking about Argentine cowboys.

Why must we relive the fashion tragedies of the past?

*I never actually took acid. I attribute the flashback to the night I spent with my best friend, who did take a hit of acid, and then tried to put her hand through a plate glass window because it looked juicy. A vicarious acid trip, but a very real flashback.


Half My Life

I just realized today that it was 18 years ago, when I was 18 years old, that Loki and I moved in together. Maybe not this exact date, but right around now, the end of August, 1988. I've been with the same person half my life. More than half my life. Shoot, I was 17 years old when I fell in love with him at first sight. He didn't fall in love with me at first sight, but I made sure we spent enough time together that I would be there when he was ready to fall.

Some days, it is effortless and easy to be married. Other days, I feel like divorce is not nearly final enough, and death (his death, anyway) is the only way out. (I'm sure he could not make the same claim, as I am a source of constant joy.)

Maybe I'll make Oodles of Noodles for dinner, to remind him of the good old days.


Things I need

I need a digital camera or possibly a camera phone. I know that sounds more like a want, which would mean I should add it to the post below, but I'm convinced it is a necessity.

For example, if I had a digital camera, I could take a picture of this ginormous truck that arrives at work the same time I do everyday. It's some kind of 4x4, wide-hipped truck with extra tires on the back wheels. It's not a Hummer, but it has the same affect. And on the back window, there is a Terrorist Hunting Permit, so the driver can let everyone know what kind of badass he is.

And I want to take a picture of this monstrosity after the driver of the vehicle gets out. The driver is an attorney who is roughly my height, which might actually make him a little person. He's diminutive. He's tiny. He's wee. Other words that could be used to accurately describe him: dweeby, nebbish, geeky, nerdy.

I just laugh at the level of overcompensation the vehicle is making for the man. And I can't help but wonder if he's like one of those men who wears a toupee. Look in the mirror, man. Be who you really are. Embrace your nebbishy inner dweeb. Put a Starfleet Academy sticker on the back of your Honda Civic and let go of your fuel burning external penis substitute.

Things I Want

Everything on this page

A housecleaner

a storage bench on my back porch

For Loki to get rid of all his cars

I'd love this house, but I'd certainly settle for this apartment.

a cute little Vespa

That is all for now.

Another friend added

I have now added the divine Lisa Ash to my Friends and Family blogroll. I don't want to raise anyone's expectations for her blog, but Lisa Ash is possibly the funniest person I've ever met in my life.

Hyp-mu-tized; plus, my boring suburban life

I am incredibly suggestible when it comes to music. My family has begun to use this against me. This weekend, Loki got me to start singing "I Touch Myself" in public, just by humming a few bars of it earlier in the day. And now Monkey has started to sing little bits of songs that I hate, just so she can laugh at me when an hour or so later, I start humming the hated tune.

I blame my mother.


This weekend, Monkey and I went to the mall. I know, already it's so boring and suburban, and I haven't even mentioned the fact that I got a Prescriptives makeover (Prescriptives, the makeup that sounds like medicine!) and Monkey spent $20 hard earned bucks at a store I find personally offensive, Libby Lu. I pray she grows out of her fascination with the tweenage lifestyle marketed by Disney. Why, when I was a youngers, there was no such thing as tweens - you went from infant (0-2) to toddler (2-3.8) to kid (3.9-12) to teenager (13-18). At that point, most people go into their drunken college years, but I went straight to motherhood. I fully intend to go through my drunken college years in my 40s.

But now there is this whole industry preying on tweens (t'aint a kid, t'aint a teen, just somewhere in beTWEEN). I try very hard not to freak out about it - I survived the Valley Girl years and being a Durannie, this too shall pass.


In other boring suburban news, Sio and I are going to redo the kitchen. That means that Sio will be priming and painting, and I will be paying. We have a chair rail that runs along the wall, well north of where any chair would be, and everything above that will be green, everything below will be blue, and the trim is a vanilla cream color. In addition, my father is going to redo the laminate counters, to a color called "ubatuba granite". Except it won't be granite, it will be formica, because granite is fucking expensive.

I am quite possibly the laziest and most indecisive decorator ever, so if this actually happens, it will be amazing.


In other news, Sio got a job! She was offered another job at a vet's office, but she couldn't accommodate the hours they wanted her to be there, so instead she's working at our local market. She can walk there, and they aren't open crazy hours or holidays, so it should work out okay.