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!

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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.