Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Makes You Go "Hmm"

What is your sexual appeal?

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Well, now this is interesting, isn't it?

Test Drive

Today the Supreme Court hears a case about a New Hampshire law that requires a minor to notify at least one parent before seeking an abortion, except in the case of a medical emergency.
And to think my biggest temptation to forge my mother's signature was on a field trip permission slip back in my day. Of course, the whole "medical emergency" argument can be a loophole, but I'd say the imminent ass-whooping that can come from a parent could be considered a medical emergency. It's a messy issue, and interesting to see how newbie John Roberts handles it. Hopefully if the law is upheld (which it may be, since it was never invoked, and the Supreme Court usually rules on laws that have actually proved problematic for an actual group of people) the language doesn't show a turn to the conservative side of abortion rights.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Hate Myself

...for caring.
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"Thanks for the piggyback to fame, baby. But this is the end of the line for you."
I don't know why we're all so surprised about Nick and Jessica breaking up. Seriously. Anyone with half an ounce of sense would have smelled Joe Simpson's creepy odor wafting from this pile of shit marriage as soon as MTV decided to air it. His daughter wasn't as popular as Britney or Christina (or, for that matter, Mandy Moore) and he'd had it. What better than a show with Jessica and her Muppety boyfriend getting married and tolerating each other? What better than to engage America with his very openly virginal daughter finally getting married, with the not-so-subtle thought of her attractive cherry being popped? His big-boobed, dumb daughter and her slightly less dumb boy-band, football lovin', completely hetero husband would conquer the world.
Except Nick kind of got the shit end of that stick. He got to tag along on holiday specials and some duets, but his career stagnated like a mosquito breeding ground. For fuck's sake, the only role he had was on Charmed. Jessica launched a cosmetic line (which is actually kind of fun, I own the powder that tastes like cotton candy, shut up) and got to be in a movie with the star power of Johnny Knoxville (not very luminous), and she got to finally enjoy being a popular, pretty girl who put out. And she cashed out of the relationship (VIA EMAIL, my God, she ended her marriage in AN EMAIL) that got her there with her star rising and Nick's going into mid-season replacement sitcom hell.
Get this, Jessica even cops to it:

According to the magazine(US), a source close to Jessica said that "she felt he didn't want to be in the marriage, and she was tired of being in a fake marriage."

Poor Nick. He's not so bad. He has a funny face, but he seems nice. He made a deal with the devil (Jessica's creepy dad) and lost. I kind of feel for him. But I'm kind of glad I don't have to hear about them anymore. Perhaps Nick and Shar Jackson can have a drink.
"God, Kevin is such a dick. I tried to warn Britney, but she just wouldn't listen."
"I really loved Jessica. She was so dumb. Why did I let my guard down so easily with her? Why did I allow myself to love when I knew she'd only signed on for three seasons?"
"Honey, I know. We all make mistakes. But you'll get better. God, Britney is SUCH a skank."
"Maybe if I can beat up Knoxville she'll love me again."
"She loves her fame, baby, not you. She's gone. Trust me."


Aw, man. I loved the Berenstain bears. I remember reading the one about not talking to strangers, and the dark shadows on the other bears' faces scared me. I also liked the one when all of them watch too much TV. So thanks for making me a book nerd, Mr. Berenstain.

Forget Marrying for British Citizenship

...I'm looking to marry for good healthcare.
Do you know where all my problems start? No, not with my temper, entirely. They start with money. The Whatever and I fight about money. My Mom nags me about money. I can't live out my dream to save up money, quit my job and travel Europe for a year because of money. And, like most of the problems facing Americans today, a lot of my money woes come from health insurance, or a lack thereof.
I took my low-paying job in publishing with this publisher because I like it. I like the books they put out and I like the people I work with. I do not like my ridiculously low salary, but I was pacified by the fact that I get "good benefits." Now, three years later, that's been downgraded to "benefits of some kind, but mostly el shitto." Every year, I pay more for each birth control prescription I get filled. Every year, the copay for visiting my doctor goes up. If I visit an ER, I automatically pay $100. This year, my premiums went up AND I now have shitty dental coverage. Guardian. Have you heard of them? Me neither. Guess who accepts their craptastic insurance? Not my dentist, that's who. I think dentists who work out of the back of a conversion van might, but that's about it.
Not only that, but there's very few perks that may eventually lower the cost of healthcare for the company. My friend asked HR if they'd agree to a corporate plan or discount at Healthworks. A large majority of the women in my office go to Healthworks, and shell out a large amount of money to do so. A lot of women would shell out a lot of money to go to Healthworks if it would cost them slightly less to go (myself included). It's close to the office. Our office is comprised of about 98% women. Hook a sister up. If I'm working out, I'm feeling better. If I'm feeling better, I'm working better. If I'm working better, the company gets more out of me for my small salary. I'm glad to have the pay, believe me. But I do not enjoy having my raise negated by the increases to my health insurance. My friend said that HR would "think about" the gym discount Yeah, and I'll "think about" marrying some guy for his less crappy healthcare that doesn't send me bills because the insurance didn't cover all they said they would EVEN WHEN I AM IN NETWORK. I don't WANT to join the Flexible Spending because I get screwed out of my money if I don't use it by the end of the year. I want to be able to go to a good dentist and PAY ONLY THE COPAY, and not get the fun window envelope a few weeks later asking for another $15. It adds up, and I don't have it.
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You said it, clipart.
So now I've had it. My friend and I are mounting a resistance to the unlubricated reaming we're getting. I know that healthcare is an expensive service for a company to provide, but why aren't more huge companies with actual lobbying power asking the government to do anything about it? I doubt the textbook publishing lobby is strong enough to argue with the drug companies, but a car maker certainly could. Wake up, America!

Monday, November 28, 2005

The First Five Minutes of Finding Nemo = Bambi-level Trauma

Another Thanksgiving come and gone. I wish I had something exciting to report, but other than eating two huge meals within an hour of each other, not much happened. Luckily, nobody mentioned the phantom boyfriend I mentioned in passing the last time I talked to my grandmother, so I held it together just fine. My brother, my cousin and my grandfather nearly got into a fight about the merits (or demerits) of Honda Civics.

Brother: Civics suck. They don't get the gas mileage that people think they do. It's only like 17 miles per gallon.
Cousin: No, it's about 21.
Brother: No, it's like 17.
Cousin: I know the stats on my own car.
Grandfather: The Civic is a good car...
Brother: No, it kind of su--
Grandfather: Don't argue with your Grandfather!

Ah, family.
Thanksgiving found me misting up while my Mom and I watched Finding Nemo on ABC after A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ended. I was in a horrible mood-- every jewelry commercial, every mother holding a kid, every family gathering made me feel lonely and angry by turns. My Mom hugged me, saying she'd talk if I wanted to, but she didn't want to upset me on a holiday. Just having my Mom hug me, and resting my chin on her head made me feel better.
So I woke up on Friday and went shopping. I love my sleep more than a doorbuster sale, so I didn't get out until about 11am, and I went until about 5pm before I went home for a great Thanksgiving dinner sandwich. As sad as it is, shopping really improved my mood. I guess it's feeling a sense of accomplishment when I stack the entire dining room table with bags full of stuff, which is shallow and shows how deep consumerism has its talons in my neck.
Sunday I babysat. Which was fun. The kids I've known since they were three and a half and a year and a half are such school-aged kids now. The girl (seven) drags her brother (five) around on her back, the baby giggling and chasing them around with her increasingly steady run. The girl says "These are baby songs" when her brother wants to listen to a Winne the Pooh tape. It's hard to know what to do with all of them now (before heating the water in a Coke can and rapidly cooling it in cold water to make it crinkle would be good enough) but it's amazing to see how their personalities have developed into little adults. The baby even managed to call me "Amy" once, but returned to calling me "Dad" when I was on my way out.
But now it's back to work, and back to my life in the city. It's fun around the holidays. I get to plan a party, write out Christmas cards and make a Christmas list (the one time when begging for stuff is encouraged). And bake the best cookies in the world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Nothing's happening at work. Nothing from the Whatever. I'm heading home to indulge in laundry and mashed potatoes in a couple of hours. I wish I had something to report, but not much is happening. I've had the overwhelming desire to spend most of my time asleep for the past few days, which I probably won't get to indulge in since my Mom loves to wake me up around 9am to make some damn coffee and turn on the parade. Does Katie Couric not know the meaning of "day off?"
It's kind of too bad I'm in such a funk, because I usually look forward to the debauchery on the paternal side of the family. They yell, they laugh, they nag. They always have good stories. But I'm afraid that this year will leave me especially susceptible to tearing up at any veiled reference to the death of my father (right before Thanksgiving, nineteen years ago) and perhaps losing it completely. Ah well. I will soldier on, regardless. And then I shall drown my sorrows in massive debt the next day as the Christmas season begins in earnest. Retail therapy, indeed!
So a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Eat some extra pie for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Turkey Day

Every year the President pardons a turkey. I don't know why-- it's a symbolic gesture, and a hypocritical one at that since he'll turn right around, walk into the White House and eat a less fortunate turkey a few hours later. I mean, who knows. The Bush family spent a lot of time in Maine and maybe they eat lobster for Thanksgiving and he's right to pardon the turkey. But it seems a little preposterous to pay double time and a half to the Secret Service to protect the leader of the free world during that inane ceremony.
Also, the turkey is probably all, "This asshole is going to pardon me? He tries to go through locked doors!"
But I love Thanksgiving. You know why? Mashed potatoes. I could do without the corn, without the turkey, without the wine (especially the wine right now, since I'm still hungover from Saturday, mentally speaking) but if there are no mashed potatoes, you can bet I'm going to be a real sourpuss. My Mom makes them the best-- a little sour cream, half-and-half, loads of butter, a dash of dill. She leaves the salt and pepper out since I load my half-plate wide, inch and a half high stack with salt regardless of whether she's added some already or not, so she's hoping that heart disease will be staved off another year.
I also think I love Thanksgiving because my Mom has always been into the holidays and it's just so infectious. She waits by the television at the end of the Macy's Parade, waiting for the very convincing Santa Claus to come down the street and signal the beginning of Christmas. This is then usually followed a few days later by what my Mom calls "The Christmas Dream." Almost every year for the past few years she dreams that she forgets Christmas. She wakes up on Christmas Eve day and there's no tree, she hasn't bought any presents, she forgets to pick me up at the train, and there's no food for breakfast. The morning after this dream I get an email demanding my Christmas list or else I'm getting a check.
I'm also one of the sick freaks who loves to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Seriously. I love the bargains, the excuse to go out and spend hundreds of dollars in one fell swoop. I love that Target will call me on Friday to get my ass out of bed and out to consume. This is America. Smell the consumerism. I go too crazy for the kids I babysit, I buy my Mom more than I should (because no one else is going to) and usually get myself a couple of things. But I love coming back on Friday night, exhausted and sore, knowing things are underway.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Buy You a New Life, Yes I Will

Okay, so, things suck. Today I am sitting in front of my computer at work, occasionally bursting into silent tears and hoping no one comes up behind me while my eyes are wet and puffy. Maybe it's time for a new job.
As Alicia was leafing through the Globe yesterday, she came across this article. Maybe I should leave this publishing world for my true passion-- meterology. I mean, my family's all into it. I had a weather observation kit when I was a kid, with a rain gauge and anemometer and all that. My grandfather listens to his weather radio all day, the comforting drone of the computerized voice audible even outside his apartment. And, of course, maybe I could do a weather internship with Pete Bouchard. That would be pretty awesome. We could listen to Police CDs while we pored over weather charts.
Too bad I hate math.
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Oh. God.

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The leader of the free world, ladies and gentlemen!
He is trying to leave through a locked door. Seriously.
I... I just don't know anymore. The world has completely gone mad. I give up.

Girl Gone Wild

I hit a new low this weekend.
It was supposed to be fun. The Whatever's friend was supposed to come visit from the wilds of Maine, Kristen was having a birthday celebration that I'd bought a beautiful dress for, and I was looking forward to it. Instead, I'm covered in bruises, cuts, and barely been able to stand being in my own head since Saturday around midnight.
The Whatever's friend didn't come down for some reason, so we went to bed around eight-thirty on Friday. Lame, yes, but it was good to sleep and not go outside since it was so cold. We got into an argument about money, which we tend to do, before bed. So I was upset, and I let it build up. Then we were running late to get ready for the party on Saturday, so I didn't have as much time as I'd wanted to shower and get ready. I wanted to give myself a mask treatment, get my toenails into better shape for my new open-toed shoes. But we stopped at Sears to try to return some clothes the Whatever had worn and they wouldn't take them back, so we had to figure out a solution. By the time we got to my apartment, an hour after I'd wanted to get there, my mood was really foul. We got to the North End, managed to find the restaurant, my shoes cutting into my heels, and had dinner. I enjoyed talking to everyone and was starting to feel better. Then we went to Annette's house for a party. I was still having fun, talking to Beth's FH. Then Sebastian pointed out that my foot was bleeding. And I lost it.
I was crying and hysterical. And then I started yelling at the Whatever. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was horrible. I tried to go home alone, stumbling from the alcohol and my uncomfortable shoes. I know I told him to leave me alone. I have never been as out of control as I was then. It felt like what I imagine insanity to feel like-- words were coming out of my mouth that I had no control over. I apologized to Kristen for ruining her party. The Whatever brought me home, and when I was crossing Beacon Street from the T I fell down, bruising my knee and elbow. I remember the Whatever putting rubbing alcohol on my knee, and crying and saying how horrible a person I am. My roommate came in to check on me and the Whatever sent her away. The next morning she said I was crying so hard she thought I'd been raped. I remember telling the Whatever I was sorry, and then I don't remember anything until I woke up at 4am, alone. I felt completely alone, and not just because he wasn't with me. I checked my phone, and the Whatever had left me a message saying he'd call me in the morning, and that he loved me. I sent him a few messages, and he replied to a couple. Then I called him at 11, and he said he'd call me when he woke up. When five rolled around, I called him again.
I don't know what's going to happen. He's got to think, and I don't blame him. I acted like a complete ass. I let everything build up instead of talking to him calmly, and lost it at the worst possible time and place. I don't want to lose him, especially if it's because I behaved like an infant. He's always been wary of my temper, and I just proved him right to be. I just wonder if I'm going to push the self-destruct button on every relationship I'm ever in. It seems likely. The Whatever is the first one I call when something good or bad happens, and it's horrible to know he's not there for me now. He told me to call Kristen, call Alicia, call my Mom. And that he loves me, and would call me "one of these days."
Alicia called me back and said she'd be over in a while. I then called my Mom, who was, as always, calm and rational. She listened to me sob and sniffle into the phone as I explained what happened.
"Well, the drinking was a bad idea, of course. And don't you have PMS right now too?"
"Yeah," I sniffled pathetically.
"Oh man. You were upset, you drank too much, and your hormones were out of control. It was the perfect storm."
She wished me good luck, and told me she was happy I'm coming home for Thanksgiving. "So I can give you hugs. I'm also going to need you to vacuum and help me put my new electric blanket on my bed."
Life goes on.
Alicia showed up a few minutes later, and she gave me a hug as I cried on her shoulder. We leafed through my roommate's People magazine with Matthew McConaughey on it and had a debate about his hotness (Alicia's standpoint) and non-hotness (my view). It was weird, but I felt much better just having Alicia talk about what she got her dad for Christmas instead of sitting and watching VH1 all day like I had been. She told me I'd be fine no matter what happens, which is true. I just want to be fine with the Whatever and not without him.
Thanks to everyone who listened to me bawl yesterday, deprived of sleep, hungover and upset. Thanks to Deb for buying pizza and diet Coke and Alicia for the desert yesterday. And, if he's reading this for some reason, to the Whatever for bringing my belligerent drunk ass home safely.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Maybe He's Just Not Into You, Or Perhaps is Paid to be Into You

Talk about feeling shitty. Nothing like going on a fake date to make you feel better about yourself.
I hate online dating. Lord knows I tried, Lord knows my friend have tried, hell, even my Mom tried. But it sucks. Mightily. I had one successful "relationship" (we went on a few dates, he drove me batshit) through online dating, and then tried again about a year later. And it sucked. All my fantastic single friends who try it end up hating themselves even more after online dating. My Mom is going to write a novel about the fucking nutters she's met online dating, and those are "mature men" she's trying to find, not a twentysomething frat boy. It's eBay for people, and it sucks. I hope this lawsuit brings online personals down, because few relationships I've seen through online personals actually take off (Kerri and Will being the notable exception). I'd rather spend my life in a house that reeks of cat and stale beer than do online dating again.


Every year, the company I work for buys us books at Christmas. The idea is to get a nice, hardcover book that you probably wouldn't get for yourself. For the first couple of years, I had no idea what I wanted. I got an atlas, I got a book with photographs of London. This year, I can barely wait to get my gift book. I knew what I wanted, and it fell within the spending constraints. Now I'm counting the days until we get the books. Why?

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Oh yes. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.
I pretty much own the complete Calvin and Hobbes collection in various tattered paperback books. I've loved Calvin and Hobbes since I was in fourth grade, when my friend Lindsey and I would read them non-stop. I still have an old strip where Calvin's mother is screaming at him to get up before he misses the bus, and he laments, "these mornings are going to kill me" tacked to my bedroom door at my Mom's house. There was one strip where Calvin said something that every time I read it to my brother, he and I would both crack up laughing for five minutes. It was something stupid, but for us kids, it was great.
As a kid, I kept waiting for the marketing blitz to begin. I waited for the movie, the Happy Meal toys, the Halloween costumes. But nothing came. I had a baseball cap with Calvin on it, and I think I had a t-shirt, but that was it. As a kid, I thought it was disappointing, but now I'm glad that Calvin didn't end up on my bedsheets like Garfield did. I'm disappointed (verging on angry when I read the dumb-ass comics in the newspapers now) that Bill Watterson didn't keep going with his strip, keep fighting the good fight against the limitations the syndicates (comic syndicates, not crime syndicates) place on cartoonists.
Bill Watterson said at the commencement speech he gave at his alma mater, Kenyon College:
As my comic strip became popular, the pressure to capitalize on that popularity increased to the point where I was spending almost as much time screaming at executives as drawing. Cartoon merchandising is a $12 billion dollar a year industry and the syndicate understandably wanted a piece of that pie. But the more I though about what they wanted to do with my creation, the more inconsistent it seemed with the reasons I draw cartoons...
Authorship would become committee decision. Creativity would become work for pay. Art would turn into commerce. In short, money was supposed to supply all the meaning I'd need.
What the syndicate wanted to do, in other words, was turn my comic strip into everything calculated, empty and robotic that I hated about my old job. They would turn my characters into television hucksters and T-shirt sloganeers and deprive me of characters that actually expressed my own thoughts.
On those terms, I found the offer easy to refuse. Unfortunately, the syndicate also found my refusal easy to refuse, and we've been fighting for over three years now. Such is American business, I guess, where the desire for obscene profit mutes any discussion of conscience.

Watterson gave this speech in 1990, five years before he sent Calvin and Hobbes off on their metaphorical sled into the sunset, and the deep dissatisfaction with the industry was evident. The love of his craft is also clear. He was into comic strips because he felt that they could convey a lot of truth in that short space, that a good cartoonist could create strong characters. And, most importantly, the characters Watterson created appealed to me as much as they did my Mom. Adults and kids can relate to Calvin's frustrations with the world, and the hell he raises, sometimes unwittingly. Hell, I even got into philosophy when I found out Calvin and Hobbes were loosely based on real people's ideas. I'm sure I looked up more than a word or two, since Watterson used an adult's vocabulary in little Calvin. It was a strip that made me smarter, unlike others, Garfield.
As a writer, I admire Watterson's stubbornness in submitting to the unfair system that's set up for his craft. He laments the lack of space in the comic strips nowadays (Berkley Breathed managed to negotiate himself a half page in many markets as a condition to bring his popular Bloom County strip back) and the fact that the syndicates own the characters and can make films, commercials, lunchboxes, whatever out of them, and this makes the comic just "cute" and not meaningful. Watterson kept Calvin and his tiger in the realm of the imagination. Sure, you can find Calvin peeing on all manner of logos, but that was taken from a strip where Calvin's filling a water balloon at a spigot and creative types inserted the stream of urine and logo. But there's no Calvin and Hobbes movie. I don't think Calvin would do well on the screen-- I like imagining him sounding like the little boy I babysit when he's getting into trouble, a squeaky voice with an intelligence and a hint of mischief. I imagine Hobbes with a deep, adult voice, the opposite of Calvin, almost his id.
Be on the lookout for me at the work Christmas party. I'll be the one peeling back the paper on the book with my name on it, wondering if I can slip the actual books out before we get to open them.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Imagine you are ten years old. Imagine the school nurse comes in, looks at all the kids in your class. Imagine you get a letter a few weeks later saying you should stay after school because you are a fat kid and you need to engage in some non-competitive physical activity three times a week to ward off obesity.
Good intentions. Bad plan.
Kids are mean. They're adults who haven't learned how to tame their base instincts and they love to find the weaknesses of other people. Kids will find out that Joey's going to the fat kid afterschool program and tease the everloving bejesus out of him.
I'm not saying that childhood obesity isn't a problem, or that a kid should just be left in front of the TV with bags of chips. I just think it's a bit unrealistic to expect kids to be okay with being sent to an afterschool program that their nasty peers will find out about and humiliate them for. I mean, just walking around in a sports bra when I was twelve for the scoliosis test was traumatizing enough for me, and I wasn't that overweight. I can't imagine hearing, "Hey, have fun at the fat camp today" at that age. So you'll have fit kids who still feel bad about themselves because their peers will know it's a sore spot.
I think that schools need to include all the kids in the healthy eating and physcial activity plan. Back in the day, it was called "phys ed." Even kids who are skinny can still eat shitty foods and not get enough exercise, but they're lucky enough to have the metabolism for it. Keep the gym and recess time for kids in the school day, and work on the eating in health class. Don't put the fat kids on the metaphorical short bus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

All I Want for this Press Conference...

is a fucking Segway?
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Check it:

Bush was riding the vehicle when he met Koizumi outside the Kyoto State Guest House in the ancient Japanese capital, a Japanese pool report said. ... The scooters can be tricky to ride. Bush fell off one two years ago but managed to land on his feet. It is also illegal to ride them on public byways in Japan.

So not only is the President spending taxpayer money (I assume) on a scooter, he gave it to a guy who can't even use it in public. Which may be a blessing, because if he falls, pictures of said stumble will end up all over the internet. Couldn't you have just brought the Prime Minister a Yankee Candle or something? That's what my Mom brings to family functions.
Also, if the President met the Prime Minister outside, didn't he just commit a crime according to Japanese law? Can we arrest him? Please? And waive extradition?

Digital Age

I don't like to use my online soap box for personal reasons, usually, and I'm aware it's going to make me a hypocrite since I just said a couple days ago not to buy anything for Christmas until next week, but I asked my Mom what she wants for Christmas, and she said:

As for myself, I am thinking I'd like you and your brother to look at digital cameras that are not too expensive or hard to operate, that have zoom lenses. I have been wanting one to try my luck with. When I get mobile, I may want to actually go places again!

So, unfortunately, I don't know anything about digital cameras. Never owned one, have little experience in using them. Help a sister out. Any advice/warnings/cameras you love would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Frenching Mitt Romney

Conservatives. Lay the fuck off France, will you? Guess who the newest Francophobe is? Joining the illustrious ranks of Bill O'Reilly and Bob Ney is Massachusetts' own intolerant jackoff governor Mitt Romney, who today said if Massachusetts doesn't watch itself, it will end up "the France of the 21st century."
Let's put this in some context:

The Republican chief executive told a gathering of school leaders on Tuesday that while Massachusetts placed first nationally in a series of recent math and science tests, the United States itself ranks 25th out of 41 industrialized nations in math performance.
At the same time, the country is awarding roughly 4,500 doctorates in math and science each year, compared with about 24,000 per year in Asia.
"We cannot continue to have an excellence gap with the rest of the world and intend to remain the economic superpower and military superpower of the planet. That's just not going to happen," Romney said. "We're in a position where unless we take action, we'll end up being the France of the 21st century: A lot of talk, but not a lot of strength behind it in terms of economic capability."

Good idea, Mitt. But poor execution. You've had a rough week of it, what with laughing at a joke that invoked the Ku Klux Klan and now insulting French people. Yes, America is falling behind because we're the smart kid who's resting on his laurels; and with outsourcing we're giving other, poorer countries a taste of the good life, and they're willing to work to get ahead. I'm all for education. And since I'm all for education and have been educated, I know that France is a place where lots of education happens. You know. The Renaissance? Monet? Camus? Voltaire? The fact that most people in the twentieth century looked to France as a leader in thought?
One day, France shall rise up again. Probably under the leadership of a short guy. But France has nothing to do with American education. Not even in a very stretched out analogy to the French's penchant to talk about things before they act. Way to convince us you're not trying to run for President.

Gravy Train

Wait a second. A guy who drives a Porche can get an affordable housing unit? People who already own condos can get a second condo at affordable rates?
How the hell do I get in on this shit? Because mama's not got a ton of money, and I'd sure as hell love to live in the South End. Seriously. Where do I apply for a condo for $141,000?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pimpin' with Papi

Oh Papi.
Don't let the bastards get you down. For Sox fans, you are the MVP. Also, A-Rod doesn't have a plane named after him, does he?

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Sit the fuck down on the Papi express, A-Rod.

Attention American Shoppers

Do not be hoodwinked. Do not be bamboozled. Do not get caught up in the red/green/white glow in the shopping malls and Targets of this fine land. Put your credit card away. THINK.
They aren't doing this to make your life easier. They're not recognizing your busy schedule. It's a trick, consumers. Retailers big and small are trying to catch you before you realize you're taking on a second mortgage's worth of heating bills this year and get you to buy everyone in your office an iPod, and not the half-priced candy basket you got on December 26th of last year that they so richly deserve. You don't even like half those people. Engage your brain.
What the hell happened to us? My Mom told me about how my father used to get pissy that stores had Christmas stuff out in November. December 1 at the Papa D's side of the family brought out garlands and lights, but not the day after Thanksgiving. He's probably rolling in his grave at the thought of half of K-Mart being full of cheap lights before Halloween.
Here's what you should be thinking about regarding the holidays until a week from Friday: planning your parties and buying any appropriate seasonal formal wear that you may need for said parties. That's it. Unless you're one of those people who buys Christmas gifts all year, I don't want to hear about you impulse-buying lotions or pine scented candles. Keep it in your pants, America. Your wallet, that is.
I'm a spender too. Keep this in mind. I went to the mall yesterday for a quick errand, and the place was already festooned with garland and red orbs and reindeer. I screamed and flinched. At least the annoying holiday music wasn't blaring over the speakers. Yet.
What happened to the Charlie Brown vision of Christmas? I mean, that kid's about seven years old and he gets it.
"I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."
That's because Christmas brings out both the best and worst in people, Charlie Brown.
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Man, but there was nothing like the Charlie Brown Christmas special when I was a kid. I'd be riled up for weeks about that.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

John McCain: Superstar

Good on ya, Johnny.
Seriously. I mean, I watch 24 and I root for Jack Bauer to beat the everloving snot out of the terrorists. On television, I want the answers no matter what. But this is real life, without a script to make sure Jack pulls it out in the end. I do agree that we can't just squirt cold-blooded killers and liars with a water pistol and expect to make progress. But there should be humane limits placed on what can happen to a prisioner. And John McCain should know. He's been on the other end of the torture, and I'm sure he wished that his captors had followed the Geneva Conventions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Meh. Pheh.

It's Friday. What more is there to say? Sure, I could get all riled up about Bush saying that criticizing the Iraq war is bad, or I could sit and try to puzzle out how I keep seeing headlines that say "Jennifer Anniston makes push for movie stardom." Isn't she already a movie star? I remember her in several films in the past few years. I could also be mad that another good television show is being cancelled (full disclosure: I don't watch it). Instead, I sit and hope someone writes a really long and witty column somewhere as I wait for five pee em so I can pack it up and go home to conclude the never-ending freelance project.
What do I really want to do? Cook. Something in the cold air this morning makes me want to nest. I want to clean my room and cook risiotto and lasagna and soup. I'd love to get to Ikea, but there's a five-mile backup in Stoughton. It's late fall in New England, everyone, and I just want to get fat and read a book.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


This seems like a good idea, but then I thought about it.
I add or change my email address about every two years. Two years ago I still used my Emerson email. Now I'm gradually changing to Gmail from Yahoo!. So what assurances do I have that I'll ever get this email?

Pop Culture is Good for You

Somehow, I got my conservative mother to become a huge fan of The Daily Show. Forget the 18-35 bracket, even the baby boomers are getting their news from The Daily Show. I don't know why people are all worked up about this-- TDS is far more critical of the government than mainstream journalism has since Cronkite was anchoring. The best part of the show is the skewering of the headlines at the opening, but the Dateline-esque interview segments are also good. My Mom watches them with her sore legs up on the La-Z-Boy, hooting at the earnest people.
"Why do these people do this?" She asks, her laughter filling the house.
Apparently, the producers find a weak target, and go in for the kill. Read the sob stories of Barney Frank and Brian Camenker, two locals who found themselves on one of these segments.
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He'll take a bite outta you too, punks.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


There's this ad for the new investigative reporter (Jim Taricani is, I assume, writing his memoirs which I will be first in line to buy) on the NBC affiliate in Rhode Island that says "Rhode Island isn't politics as usual, it's political theater." And, in a story that will be told for years to come, we get two assclowns who will end up on the political blooper reel with Bush's camera flip-off.
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Play it again, Sam. That tune never gets old.
Here's a transcript of what went down. Allow me to provide the dramatis persone for this interlude.

Guy Dufault is a lobbyist and consultant, who is renowned for being in cahoots with the Narragansett Indians and their decade-plus long quest to build a casino in Rhode Island.
J. Michael Levesque is a former state GOP chairman who was uncomfortably glancing at the cameras and smiling and nodding while Dufault hung himself on camera.
Don Carcieri is the Republican governor of Rhode Island.
Charles Fogarty is the Democratic Leautenant Governor, and a likely candidate to run against Carcieri next year.
The setting is a pre-show soundcheck for "The Real Deal" which is basically an advertisement for the casino proposal disguised as an issues show.

Levesque: Are we still on for breakfast?
Dufault: We're off for breakfast now. No promise or anything, I uh, I'm meeting with [Lt. Gov. Charles] Fogarty at 8 a.m.
Levesque: Oh, OK. Well, we'll make it next week.
Dufault: Yeah. We'll just do it next week. Uh yeah, I got . . . Fogarty, uh, wants to see me.
Levesque: Jesus, I hope you breathe some life into him.
Dufault: That's what I'm gonna do. That's why I'm going. We've called the campaign to bitch. I mean literally that's what I did. I called their campaign to bitch. I said 'look, I can't uh, ya know, I can't be out there telling the unions to support you when you can't even take simple positions.'
Levesque: What are you talking about?
Dufault: Miminum wage. Uh, uh, right to vote on the casino. I mean these are simple things and you're on the right side of the issue. Eighty percent of the people want the right to vote. Eighty percent of the people want a minimum wage increase. The governor is on the wrong side of both those issues. Why are you not out there slamming him at every chance?' And he's, he's, afraid of alienating . . .[muffled "typical"].
A technician reminds them of an audio check.
Dufault: Okay, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Levesque: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Levesque: Even some of the money people are saying 'I'm not jumping on him now. We don't think he's got a shot.'
Dufault: I know. The only thing we can do is bring the other guy down. I can bring Carcieri down [pause]. I got stuff. (Laughter) If nothing else, I got the names of the past comattas [Italian slang for girlfriends]. I just gotta start throwin' 'em out there.
Levesque: . . . send a little brown envelope.
Dufault: He was active.
Levesque: Well, ya know, I told you when he first popped on the scene. That that was the big worry.
Technician: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Dufault: Welcome to this week's edition of The Real Deal . . . .

(Thanks to for the transcript.)
Now I am not idealistic enough to think politicians don't talk this way. It's a skeezy, horrible business to be in politics, especially on the local instead of national level. But I would hope that said skeezebags would have enough sense to know that talking shit about someone in a room full of bloody cameras and microphones may not be the smartest thing one can do. Christ, even Bush had a snafu when he called a reporter an asshole during his 2000 campaign. Pay attention! It's one thing if Taricani comes at you with a hidden camera, but this was pretty obvious. Not only that, but you send part of the raw tape to be aired? Even if it wasn't a simple human error, all it would take is one ambitious intern to make a huge story out of that. It's fucking stupid all around.
So Dufault lost his $10,000 a month job working for the Narragansetts, and he still won't apologize for what he said, but essentially said he's sorry it got out that way. The governor won't rest until Dufault says he's sorry, the RI Democrats are backpeadaling away from Dufault as quickly as possible, and Rhode Islanders just roll their eyes at the histrionics. My grandfather, ever the conspiracy theorist, believes someone purposely aired that footage. My mother, who is on vicodin for her hip and was flipping channels when she saw the footage air for the first time, thought it was time to dial down her dose since she didn't believe her eyes. I agree with channel 10-- it's just political theater as usual in Rhode Island.

(You can try to watch the video here. Hopefully the link works.)

File Under "How Do You Sleep?"

Can you believe this shit? "Yes, Americans are struggling, but there's profit to be made!"
Shut up, assholes. I'd love to see the day when you have a $10 billion shortfall. You'll just raise prices to $5 a gallon if you forsee trouble.

Amazing Arena Rock

One of my favorite things about the Whatever is that he's down for anything. Unless the phrase "outlet shopping" comes out of my mouth, he's ready to go. Last night, I strongarmed him into going to see Nine Inch Nails with me.
Unlike Beth over at Grand Mental Station, I am not a die-hard Nine Inch Nails fan. I've always enjoyed them, especially in my "the world is bullshit" phase in high school. I mean, the world is still kind of bullshit, but I'm not nearly as tortured about it as I was circa 1995-99. So I'd borrow my friend's copy of The Downward Spiral (I couldn't buy it because my Mom wouldn't let me buy anything with the "explicit lyrics" sticker on it). I bought Pretty Hate Machine (no sticker). Most of my friends in high school were really into them, so it kind of sunk in. And, of course, Trent Reznor is smokin' hot.
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I managed to get cheap seats, so I decided it would be worth it to go. I wouldn't have paid top-dollar, but I figured I'd always have the story of seeing them. We got there late since the Whatever did his civic duty and voted, and met up with my friends A and Will at the door. We made our way to the premium seats (whoop!) as Queens of the Stone Age were on. I feared we'd have the same problem with the sound as I had the week before at the Gwen/Black Eyed Peas show. Something about the acoustics or sound levels at the TD Banknorth Garden Center or whatever it's called is way off, so it's difficult to understand what's being sung. The bass is loud, but hell if I know what they're saying. The crowd seemed only mildly interested with the opener, and I feared I was in for a boring show.
Then Nine Inch Nails came on.
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Holy. Crap. Awesome. Seriously. There's that buzz you get after seeing a really good show, where the artist doesn't have any pretense and just goes absolutely insane for two hours, and that's what Trent et al did. As soon as they took the stage behind the mostquito netting curtain and played the first song in shadows, the audience was into it. The lighting was great. Unlike Gwen, the show wasn't in the clothes and choreography. The show was in the music and the performance. Gwen was aloof, more a pretty porcelain pop doll on a scaffold. Nine Inch Nails was the kid who knocked Gwen and her pop people down and stomped on them until they were powder in the rug. And, had there been any non-metaphoric breakables on stage, they would have been lost. Trent and the guitarist writhed and kicked on the stage. The crowd went nuts. Trent hated the seats on the floor. The Whatever rocked out to "The Hand That Feeds." And I could actually understand what Trent was singing.
It was awesome. I'd like to be more eloquent, but that's it. You can read the Herald's review, but it doesn't really tell you anything either.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Throughout this whole Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise/ Scientology debacle, there has been a silent victim. No, not Oprah Winfrey's couch. No, not the unborn baby that will break little Katie's tiny hips in two when she tries to deliver it without drugs or, you know, verbalizing her pain. The silent victim in all of this is Katie's ex-fiance, Chris Klien. The poor boy doesn't seem to be taking it so well, given his interview with Entertainment Tonight:

So where did things shift? Chris explained, "As people grow up their tastes change and I know that growing up and becoming adults the direction her and I wanted to go in changed a little bit. When it was time to split it was time to split and when you know you know."

I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. Maybe that sentence needs some punctuation? Maybe poor Chris needs to lay off his post-breakup anti-depression meds? He sounds like a guy who's been reduced to watching the chick flicks his ex-girlfriend left behind on the sofa, beer cans and cigarettes around him like one of Saturn's rings.
Chris goes on:
The actor, who dated Tom Cruise's future bride for nearly five years before they called off their engagement earlier this year, also described how he thinks Katie, who's pregnant, will be as a mom. "I know that when she and I had a relationship she was always very fond of kids and was always good with her nieces and nephews."

Seriously. I don't know if the grammar whizzes over at ET are misrepresenting how Chris spoke to them, but this is ridiculous. I don't know how to begin to read that sentence.
Katie, girl, snap out of it. Look what you've done to this poor boy. He can't live without you. Now follow your Hollywood script, get yourself deprogrammed by a Catholic or a Lutheran or a goddamn Unitarian is you must, and go back to this nice young man. Or at least take back your English Patient DVD so he can get off the couch and move on.
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When there's a mugshot involved, you know your ex isn't taking the breakup so well.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wake Up, America!

Because us pinko liberals told you this shit was going to go down. Check it:

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers expressed concern Sunday that the
FBI was aggressively pushing the powers of the anti-terrorist USA Patriot Act to access private phone and financial records of ordinary people.
"We should be looking at that very closely," said Sen. Joseph Biden..., D-Del., who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It appears to me that this is, if not abused, being close to abused."

Yes, Joe Public, they're coming for you. Dark skin or no. And, if you read on, you'll learn that some Republicans are also concerned.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record), R-Neb., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed, saying the government's expanded power highlights the risks of balancing national security against individual rights.
"It does point up how dangerous this can be," said Hagel, who appeared with Biden on ABC's "This Week."

Words like "danger" and "abuse" uttered bipartisanly sound some warning bells for me. I don't know about you, but I'm a smidge concerned.

I'm All For Slogan T-Shirts

But the ones described in this article kind of cross a line.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch said on Friday it would stop selling some of its T-shirts after a national boycott by teenage girls, who objected to slogans emblazoned across the shirts such as "Who needs brains when you have these?"

Other T-shirts featured the slogans "Blondes are adored, brunettes are ignored," and "I make you look fat."

I think that shirts like these are generally okay. I own a "Real Cowboy Wanted" shirt, and I dig the slogan shirts. The only reason I don't own more is that I may someday have a big-kid job and can't wear them to work. But I think marketing these sentiments to young girls sits wrong. Some fat bald fuck in an office reviews the designs, thinks about his ex-wife who got a little too old who was a brunette that he turned in for his new-model wife, and approves it. And, of course, using boobs instead of brains goes against everything I believe. I love my boobs, but I'd much rather have people tell me I got places because I'm smart. I'd much rather have young women believe they can get places better by planning a course than floating around whereever their tits may take them.
So, good on you, teenage girls who boycotted Abercrombie and Fitch. I'm glad to see the gloom and doom lamentations of this generation aren't entirely true.
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Klassy, Abercrombie. Klassy.

Zoot Suit Riot

It was a loong weekend, y'all.
The Whatever called me Wednesday and asked me if I'd go to Maine with him this past weekend. I figured he was inviting me out of town to celebrate my release from Rhode Island. Then he told me that his friend's father had passed away after struggling with cancer for over a year and his friend had asked him to come up for the funeral. I agreed to go without hesitation.
"So where in Maine are we going?"
"Um, St. Agatha."
"Oh. Where's that?"
"Way the hell up there. It's about a nine-hour drive from Boston."
That is not an exaggeration.
I'm not writing to complain about this-- I know about losing a father, and I wanted to be there for both the Whatever and his friend. I knew it would be interesting to see everything, and I wish we'd been able to go north under happier circumstances.
"I'm going to drop my suit off at the dry cleaners tomorrow," the Whatever said on Wednesday, "and we'll leave right after work on Friday."
If only that had happened. Let me tell you this, dear readers, do NOT use Zoots dry cleaning. Do NOT.
Friday evening we pulled into Zoots around 6:30 to see if the suit was ready early so we could grab a quick dinner and be underway. The woman took the Whatever's name and went to look for his suit. Then she said it wasn't ready yet. When the Whatever asked when it would be, she looked in the computer. Then she pulled her teeth back in a grimace. Then she went to get her manager.
"We don't have your suit," the manager said.
"You don't have it? Where is it?" The Whatever asked, exasperated.
"I think it got left in Brockton. It mustn't have made the delivery today, because the computer says it was ready at 7:30 this morning."
"I need that suit. My friend's father just died, and it's the only suit I have, and we need to drive nine hours to get to the funeral. I dropped this suit off with the promise it would be ready tonight by seven at the latest. I really need that suit." The Whatever said to the manager, who assured him she understood. She went back inside to call the warehouse in Brockton. She came back about five minutes later.
"She's going to send a truck out especially to drop the suit off. It'll be ready by nine."
We both groaned, since we'd lose two hours of travel time while we waited. "You can't do it any earlier?"
"Believe me, I tried," the woman said, "I asked 'Can you do it by 8:30?' and she said, 'No, only nine.'"
The Whatever thanked the manager grudgingly, and we went down the street to have dinner. We sat and ate, still upset but not overwhelmed. Until his phone rang.
"Speaking... what? You what?" The Whatever said, his eyes wide. I thought his friend had called to say someone else died of shock the Whatever's expression was so grave. We were waiting for change from the waitress. The Whatever was put on hold or something, because he looked at me and said, "They lost my suit."
He ran outside while I waited for the change to hopefully get a better signal on his phone, and I sat in shock for a minute. I could tell how upset he was for his friend, and this was making matters way, way worse. I figured he'd at least coerce a free rental suit out of Zoots, because he's good at politely arguing with companies. I got the change and went outside, where the Whatever was demanding to speak to the woman in Brockton who was communicating with the store.
"I don't care what your policy is. I trusted you people to have my suit to me by this evening. You've already made us late for a very long trip, and I want to speak to this woman and find out what happened to my suit. No, I don't want your customer service number, I want the number of the woman who is in Brockton who may be able to find my suit. I'm really beginning to lose my temper with you."
Then, his phone cut out. The anti-Verizon rant is to come.
We got in the car, at a loss for what to do. He called the woman at the store back, who assured us the woman in Brockton would call us "in five minutes."
Ten minutes later, we were back at the Whatever's apartment. No call.
Twenty minutes later, we were nearly packed. No call.
Since the Whatever was so furious, he gave the phone to me to call the store and ask for Brockton's phone number. She still wouldn't give. I reiterated that this was the worst possible timing, and that we understood it wasn't her fault, but the woman in Brockton needed to call us and at least tell us what she planned to do to ameliorate the situation. It's not like we needed the suit next week-- we needed it two hours ago. The woman at the store said she would call the woman in Brockton again and reiterate how urgent the situation was.
I called Zoots' customer service number while the Whatever tried to make his casual-dress wardrobe a dress wardrobe. I was assured the wait time for my call was one minute. I stayed on the line for twenty minutes before my call was released without speaking to anyone. I called the store again to tell them I'd tried to call the customer service number they gave us and it had hung up and that the woman in Brockton still hadn't called us and we needed to leave now, and she put me on hold. Then the store hung up on me. I called again and got the closed message. The Whatever and I got into a fight and I nearly walked home from his house. We agreed not to fight and went to Sears to pick up some dress pants, a shirt and a tie (all of which had been with the suit). The woman in Brockton never called all weekend. Seriously. Do not use Zoots.
So, two hours after we'd planned, we were on the road to Maine. The weather wasn't bad, and traffic was light. The Whatever gets his energy at night-- he was singing along with the radio, talking about how mad he was about his suit, and he put me on moose-patrol. I made it until about Kittery before I was drowsy. We pulled off the road into a parking lot in Freeport and took an hour-long nap around eleven. We drove to Bangor, and stopped at the Bangor Motel to sleep for a few hours in a proper bed around two-thirty. We woke up to a foggy day, and got back in the car for the rest of the drive.
Luckily, we made it to the church on time. The funeral itself was in Fort Kent, which is literally about five minutes from the New Brunswick border. It was a beautiful, sad, Rockwellian small-town scene. Women in boots and sensible dresses in dark colors streamed into the small church. The Whatever and I looked slightly overdressed by comparison. The Whatever's friend came in before the service started, and they hugged like guys do, loudly and dramatically, with their hands thumping against the others back. We met his friend's mother, step-mother, and his father's friend from graduate school. I started to lose it.
I'm not much of a crier, usually. Some sad movies make me cry, but I'm not someone who cries every day. However, when presented with mortality, I can't keep it together. The Whatever and I sat behind a girl with her long hair pinned up sloppily with a barrette, who was already crying before the casket was even brought in. I started to tear up. The Whatever held my hand tightly, but everywhere I looked, something made me sad. The dates of his friend's father's life on the front of the program for the service, his entire life summed up in one line of text. The cross, the hymns, the Whatever's friend's stepmother's wet eyes. Tears ran down my face, and I tried not to sniff too much. I thought about how my Mom says you're not an adult until you carry tissues with you. I didn't even have a napkin or anything. I didn't even know this man, and I'm carrying on more than his son. I thought about my Dad, about my coworker who died a couple years ago from lung cancer. I thought about all the people I love, who will someday end up in a box like that, about me ending up dead. The Whatever's friend's dad, judging by the eulogy, was a great guy who loved to do things. Which is a small comfort, but proof that we're all going to go someday, no matter how vibrant we seem while we're alive. The pastor talked about how this man isn't suffering anymore, how we shouldn't be sad, how our sadness is basically selfish, and I'm thinking about how the entire service is selfish, how the entire religion exists to make us all feel better about our own eventual deaths.
Then we walked outside across the snowy cemetery, the dusting of snow kicking into my shoes with every step for the final prayers. The Whatever's friend stood between his mother and stepmother, his eyes red but not openly crying like the women were. The Whatever held me close as the leader of the choir of the church sang "Danny Boy". I caught a glimpse of the Whatever's friend's stepmother patting the casket one last time, and turned away so the people who had no idea who I was wouldn't see me sobbing.
The pastor then invited us to the dining hall at the college for some snacks. I hadn't eaten since a roadside stop for onion rings the night before, so I was glad to have a chance to eat. The Whatever and I walked over to his friend, P, who was standing with his mother.
"Mom, this is Whatever and his girlfriend, Amy," P introduced us.
"Gosh, it's nice to finally meet you," P's mother said. She was a cute woman, petite and small with big glasses and a soft voice. "P's said so much about you, Whatever. He speaks very highly of you."
"Well, thank you," the Whatever said, smiling, "I wish we could have met under better circumstances."
"Me too. This is my friend Carol. We taught for many years in Caribou together. Whatever, Amy, why don't you sit with us, if you'd like to?" I met a bunch of people-- the late father's former students, the professor who took over his classes when he was too sick to teach, P's friends from home. It stuck me how odd life is-- we all expect the world to stop when we die, that everyone will be out-of-sorts without us around. But the president of the college had to cheer on the soccer team. People had errands to run. The world continues without us, even for the people we love. P talked with the caterers, mingled with the well-wishers, talked to us about what we'd do later that night.
We followed P to his house in the potato fields. He pulled a twelve-pack of beer out of his late father's nearly-new Mitsubishi sports car and showed us inside. "I'll start a fire in my Dad's office and we'll sit in there."
P went out to find firewood in the garage, so the Whatever and I looked around the study. There were bookshelves built into the walls on either end of the room that were stacked with hardover books with the yellowed jackets still on them. A big mahogany desk sat in the middle of the room, with a big leather chair behind it. Naked porcelain statues of Reubenesque women were placed on the mantle, along with pictures of P and his sister as kids. A painting of a naked woman hung over the desk next to P's father's degrees from NYU and BU.
"That's a great painting," the Whatever said to P when he came back into the study with the firewood.
"Yeah, that broad's hot," he replied.
Later, P's friend came by, along with P's father's former student. We sat around the coffee table P's Dad had built, along with everything else in the room. We talked about small-town cops, how hard marriage is, how P's father went in and used to yell at the town cops for harassing him endlessly. It was nice to sit inside by the fire, just talking, grabbing another beer before the beer we were drinking ran out. A few hours later, we got into the Mitsubishi and went to dinner at one of two restaurants near P's house. P pointed out at least seven people he knew from growing up in the area. The Whatever and I tried poutine, which is french fries covered in gravy and cheese. P's mother came back and we talked about how the Democratic party alienates the working class by taking on social issues they're not comfortable with, such as abortion and gay marriage. I wish I'd been able to participate more, but the lack of sleep was catching up with me as I sobered up, and I just wanted to sleep.
P took the Whatever and I back to his house and unfolded the sleeper sofa for us. We slept late, and P brought us coffee and took us to Canada for lunch. He drove us through the small downtown area near his town, the smell of the paper mills in Canada and Maine filling the air.
"See those pipes? That's the unfinished paper. Since it's an unfinished product and Canadian environmental regulations are so lax, companies make the paper in Canada, then pipe it to Maine to avoid the taxes. It's cheaper that way."
P drove us across the bridge and we stopped at customs. Since the Whatever and I weren't from Maine, we had to pull over and go inside to get our IDs checked. The amiable old Canadian man named Shearer walked up to the car.
"Ah, hey, P, I read aboot your Dad in the paper. I'm sorry for your loss." I do not exaggerate the accent at all. He even said "Aw jeeez" with the heavy accent. We stood around as our IDs were checked, and Shearer loaded us up with bilingual informational packets about how to move into Canada. Thankfully, our IDs cleared and we ate lunch in Edmonston, which is even in a different time zone. We were way up there.
After lunch the Whatever and I got back in his car and headed home. We stocked up on coffee (for me) and energy drinks (for him) and rode home through the fog.
"I am not good at this whole death thing," I said to him. I was in a reflective mood, and tired, which makes me brood.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I didn't know P's dad, and I lost it more than he did."
"That's not a bad thing," the Whatever said. "It shows that you feel. That's good."
"I know. But things like that make me wonder. The whole service says that we shouldn't feel bad, that his suffering is over, that he's in heaven. But the dogma just doesn't add up to me. I hate the whole dogmatic 'you have to pray and atone and jump through hoops to avoid hell' aspect. I think any God that created humans has to know that we're fallible, that we just do the best we can to be good people. I don't think praying and churchgoing should be the only thing that He considers."
"Well, as humans, we're used to needing to work for things while we live. We have to work for money, work for rewards. I think it goes against what we believe to think that we'll be rewarded for nothing when we die. We need to think that we sacrificed something while we lived to gain a reward later."
I sat and thought about that, as the Whatever talked about scientists and their belief in God relative to the field that they're in. He talked over the pop music playing quietly from the radio, and put his hand on my knee. And it was comforting to know that at least we've got good people while we're here, and I probably shouldn't worry so much about what happens next.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Forget Silver and Gold, It's Yellow and Blue

I am a liberal. Much to my mother's chagrin, I turned out just about as blue as a Smurf. I think about how my actions impact the rest of the world. I donate to Oxfam and other charities. I drink local and European beers, unless there's football, then it's all about the Coors Light. But I am a poor liberal. I am in debt, but I appreciate the finer things. I want to look good, but not spend a ton of money. Hence, I am at the mercy of super-conglomerate European chains such as H&M and IKEA.
I'm torn, because IKEA is terrible for local chains. I mean, Jordan's isn't the little guy by any means, but there are many small-scale furniture makers who suffer from chains such as IKEA and Jordan's. Most of the furnishings in my Mom's house came from a tiny store in Exeter. Every once in a while we'd head down and come back with a new desk or a new hutch. It was more expensive, but the guy was willing to accommodate our requests. At IKEA and Jordan's, it's as-is.
But the stuff at IKEA is cool. The Whatever's entire bedroom comes from IKEA. Most of his living room does as well. It's functional and looks good. When I get a place I actually want to live in instead of the 24/7 party central that is my current apartment, I'll be down at IKEA with a truck and a measuring tape. Heck, I'll probably be down in Stoughton at the end of the month buying wine glasses and lamps. So until they find a way to make furniture my poor liberal paycheck can afford, it's IKEA for me. Although, in the scheme of things, IKEA isn't an entirely evil corporation.
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Hee hee hee. I totally would not get the job.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Doin' It Well

Hee hee hee. I need to get back to the city and do something classy fast. But, until that time, check this out!

This was no one-night stand. Scientists in India say they have discovered two fossils fused together in sexual union for 65 million years.

In our hyper-sexual culture, how long before we're buried with our lovers, entwined in our favorite sexual positions for eternity? Of course, we'd have to die at the same time, or thereabouts. I'm also waiting to have a celebrity magazine dedicated to what famous people do with themselves when they're dead. "Princess Diana was buried in a lovely Chanel dress, up around her waist in the embrace of her beloved Dodi, who was buried in a Brooks Brothers suit, pants around his ankles. They were buried in a scenic park in London where a plot sells for 1 million pounds. This is the fabulous death of Princess Diana."
Sorry, I'm a little morbid. Yesterday was one of those "we're only here for so long" days. I'm heading back to the big city this evening, and unfortunately I'm just as busy as I was when I left, if not more so. But at least it'll be busy doing my own thing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

You Can Find Him In the Beltway

When I first read that 50 Cent was on Kanye West for his "Bush hates black people" comment, I chuckled. But I guess if we've moved on from dissing each other in song due only to geographic location to dissing each other because of our political views, we're making some progress. So good on ya, Fiddy. I'll look forward to your promotional visit to "Meet the Press" this Sunday.