Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Ex-Boyfriend Birthday Facebook Miracle

I will be brief.
But I just need to share this now.
A Facebook Miracle has just occurred!!

When I get on there I don't ever notice the panel on the right, that tells you about people's birthdays. I depend on my phone to bring up reminders so I can get on someone's page and post a birthday wish.

Well Francis (my iPhone)'s alarm for my good-friend-that-happens-to-be-an-ex-boyfriend's birthday today went off at 4:15 and I was like "CRAAAAAAP!" so I hurried and got on his page and was scrolling around looking at all of the birthday wishes he had received (popular guy) and I saw one from me.
And not just a birthday wish, a link to a card.  It says "I created a Special Birthday Card for you!" (yes, Special capitalized).
And it was posted at exactly midnight--right when his birthday struck.

I love celebrating birthdays and sometimes I stay up late, but not that late. And I'm not that fastidious about time and the whole "You're going to be a year older in 3..2..1!!"
I wasn't awake at midnight last night! And I didn't post that card!
I thought maybe it was a weird app that had downloaded, so I went to another 2 friends of mine with birthdays today and...nothing.

It only sends Special Birthday Cards to ex-boyfriends. On the stroke of midnight.
A Facebook Miracle.  Jesus has taken a hand in social media.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rear Window, Revised

Have you seen Rear Window?
It's one of my absolute favorites, and is my #1 Alfred Hitchcock movie (for reference, #2 is The Birds and #3 is Psycho). 

It is a delightful summer thriller revolving around a perspiring Jimmy Stewart (mmm) trapped in his apartment during a sweltering New York summer because he has a broken leg and is in a cast up to his thigh (coincidentally this happened to my best friend and the experience is miserable).

His character is a photographer and therefore a natural observer (and a me. Can I use my photography as an excuse too?).
So there he is, on an upper floor, facing out into a courtyard where he watches his neighbors most of the day, when he isn't being visited by his ravishing love interest, Grace Kelly.
The set is so much fun, and he has a wonderful view, which enables him to witness what he believes is a murder in the building across the way (and he is right, though no one believes him at first).

It is just so entertaining, in a voyeuristic way!

I loved this movie as a teenager, when I first saw it. It's perfectly suitable because there isn't any real violence-sex-language, hooray! I do wish they would realize movies don't need those things to be great, they just need an engrossing, solid plot, jaunty dialogue, and decent acting.
And it isn't a full on horror film--it is dramatic and gets creepier and creepier as it gets on. This is why they called Hitchcock the Master of Suspense! He doesn't need things popping out at the audience to make them scream (which so many modern films depend on).

What makes a film truly scary is its realism, and making the viewer relate and fear that this could happen to them.

And I do enjoy people-watching, which is perhaps why this movie appeals to me so much.
And boy, can I relate!

In our apartment complex, we face east and are on the top floor (third story) of our building.
Across the parking lot, about 25 feet away, is another building.
Sitting out on our enormous patio one night, I noticed that in that building across the way, there is an apartment on the second floor that is nearly directly across from us.
And that building is on a bit of a hill, so them being on the second floor isn't that much lower than us being on the third floor.
I noticed this particular apartment because they always have their living room brightly illuminated at night, and hanging across their large glass patio doors is a sheer red curtain, which makes everything look bloody and eerie, and you can see perfect silhouettes behind it.

When I saw that glowing red square across from me I felt a thrill and thought "ooh, it's just like Rear Window! If only they would do something creepy.
Well, I was not to be disappointed in the creepy department.

A few days after that, we had some friends over for Friday night cocktails and I was standing, staring out the door into the night and not many apartments had their lights on, as most residents were out partying, but there was that brilliant red glow again. The fact that it is RED makes it extra awful.
And then I saw movement. And when I realized what it was I thought my heart was going to stop!

It was the silhouette of an old woman, in a rocking chair, sitting in front of the patio.
And she was ROCKING THAT CHAIR LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS!! And old women and rocking chairs are the height of horror.
I screamed and ran to tell everyone and, as per, they thought I was exaggerating because my imagination is like Peter Pan on meth.

But I was rabidly insistent and they came over to the window to see for themselves and were shocked when they realized I hadn't exaggerated one bit--I didn't need to.
We were speechless, just watching this old woman (very much like Psycho) rocking and rocking.
And then the curtain twitched--someone had peeked through the red curtains and hanging slats and was watching us!
We all screamed and tried to duck--it was that horror movie moment when the person you are watching sees you and you instinctively think they're going to kill you to keep you quiet.

I dashed for the switch and turned off the lights, so they couldn't see us as well.

We chuckled about it for a few days and then let it go.
And then, another balmy evening on the patio with Eli and we saw it again.
And again we saw the shape of someone, next to the rocking granny, peek through the blinds and stare back at us. "What the hell?!" we said to one another.

Still weeks later, and we were having a nice quiet evening with a few pals and I told them the story of the creepy neighbors. "Seriously?! I want to see!" was the response.
So we headed out to the patio and they were able to experience the creepiness themselves, red window and all.
I had told my best friend the story, and she wanted to see it, so I decided it would be a good idea to take a photo of it.
But oops, my flash was on. So a giant light in the night obviously alerted the creepy neighbors to our spying so they started peeking out at us, and we ducked down onto the patio and tried peeking over the top of the rail, or under the space at the bottom of the patio wall. Observe:

Then I took another flash photo, they pulled the blinds across the window, and proceeded to peek at us through there. This battle went on for 15 minutes until we went back inside.

A few days later, at 9pm, a few of us were listening to acoustic music and singing, not making much noise at all (and it was nice noise), when a rent-a-cop arrived at our door, telling us our neighbors across the way had complained. He wouldn't say who, or what kind of "noise" they were complaining about and left.
Considering we had had several rambunctious parties at our apartment before that, which went much later into the night and involved rock music, we knew....
"the creeps across the street called on us! It must be revenge for us taking photos the other night!"

so on it went.

When my best friend Vicky arrived in May to stay with us for a few weeks, we had a welcome shindig one Saturday evening.  There were a bunch of us standing on the patio in the fading evening light and I was talking about the apartment complex and Vicky said "tell them about your creepy neighbor" (having followed my reports about their creepiness very closely) and so I began.
I could tell about halfway into my story that people thought I was bullshitting.
But they let me keep telling it, all the while staring at the apartment in question.

I told them about the creeps peeking out at us and watching us all the time when,
as if on cue, the neighbor's blinds parted and we saw a piece of a face, and an eyeball, staring at us.
The girls shrieked a bit, and realized my story was credible!
The guy watching us realized we had seen him, and he tried to close the swaying blinds.
And then peek at us again. It was obvious. And creepy.

A few weeks later Eli and I were on our way to Farmer's Market and as we came into the parking lot, I saw movement and looked up at their apartment, and sure enough there was that eyeball looking through a crack in the blinds, watching us!
I pointed it out to Eli and we stared back at the guy, and he didn't move. He just kept watching us.

Since then, at random times, I see them watching us--in the daytime when I come home with groceries, and sometimes at night.
The red curtain is still there and yes, we still see the old woman rocking sometimes.
That's what really gets me, it makes my stomach jump every time. It is just too much! Especially after the rocking chair scene from Woman in Black.

If you haven't seen it, go to the 30 second mark on this clip. And you will understand the horror!

And so friends, that is my own Rear Window tale.
I try not to stare across the way too much, especially in the evening.
Because if I see that old woman get out of her chair, or something equally creepy,
my heart may drop into my stomach. Because that is what happens when you die of fright.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Taylor Swift, Wannabe Kennedy

So the Kennedys, yes. Here we go again.
I know this isn't my business and all that jazz about celebrity gossip, but come on. It's the Kennedys. I spent a year of my life researching them. And I've had a pseudo-correspondence with RFK Jr.
 That gives me rights! So here we go.

Eli thinks I'm jealous that Taylor Swift is dating Bobby's grandson.
Most definitely not. One husband is enough for me, thank you very much!
And I've never gone for the younger men.

I'm just being protective.
And Vicky feels the same on this matter, being a Kennedy buff herself.
We were discussing it this morning.

We never had a problem with Taylor Swift...until now. She seems a bit of a phony trying to hang with America's royal family, maintaining her innocent naive facade all the while.

Taylor latches onto men that are currently in the spotlight.  One of the Jonas brothers, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, you get the idea.
So Conor Kennedy's mother kills herself in May, the family ends up in the papers, and since July Taylor is joined at the hip with him and rumor is she is buying a Cape Cod house next door to the Kennedy Compound.

And people think I'm a Kennedy stalker?

Dropping $5 million to get a house in your boyfriend's backyard?
When he still lives with his family?! By the way, he is 18 and she is 4 years older than him.

And it isn't healthy for someone who lost his mother 3 months ago to be palling around with a celebrity he hasn't known very long, unable to keep his hands off her (in true male Kennedy style).

And it gets creepier.
She is making a conscious effort to dress like Jackie---the chic dead great Aunt of her boyfriend.
It's a bit obvious.

And disturbing.

Yes Jackie was a gorgeous fashion icon, but based on Taylor's typical country-girl style and the 2 month turnaround to her preppy Kennedy wardrobe, it's obvious it isn't just a young adult style evolution.
She's trying to fit in with the Kennedys, and she is trying hard.

And the red lipstick?!

She isn't just going for the "born and raised in Hyannis Port" look (simple cotton dresses, Ray Bans, polos, loafers, pleats), she is going for the "Camelot" look--the peak of Kennedy power in the 1960s.

Ease up on the polka dots, girl!

So can Taylor cut it as a Kennedy??

The first problem is that pale pale skin.
No Kennedy tan there.

And they will be able to smell an impostor--she is trying too hard.

And the Kennedys prefer brunettes. She is far too blonde.

Keep in mind what happened to other blondes that got swept up in the Kennedys.

Namely Mary Jo Kopechne, who drowned in the backseat of Ted Kennedy's car, and, of course,

Hope she is up for some tackle football.

And being tackled by Kennedy supporters if she breaks Conor's heart and writes a song about it.

Marrying into the clan is dangerous, and doesn't ensure her status as a Kennedy.  "Taylor Kennedy" sounds awful anyway.

All I know is
if she dyes her hair brown and puts on pearls,
I'm gonna bust a cap.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Downton Abbey

Better than I possibly hoped.

I love period pieces and British drama, and both of those run the risk of being overdone, but Downton Abbey is balanced; grounded in reality, with the intrigue, joys, and agonies of everyday life woven masterfully, and subtly.

I didn't think it possible to keep track of, and sympathize with, so many diverse characters.
But I have simply devoured this series!!

The relationship between the aristocracy and their staff is fascinating and goes beyond historical stereotypes.
And speaking of history--the way true events play as an undercurrent to the personal lives of these characters is remarkable (for instance, Season 1 opens with the sinking of the Titanic and concludes with the declaration of WWI).
The costumes are gorgeous and the settings wonderful! And the dialogue is sassy yet believable.

And my favorite element of the series: Maggie Smith.
She is so badass and I have loved her for years, and her character in Downton Abbey is a lovely fit!

It's a slow starter, but this isn't supposed to be Breaking Bad. 
And it gets soooooooooo good.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Don't Think...


Julian Assange should be granted asylum, and I hope they are able to extradite him to Sweden.
I Don't Think what Assange has done is comparable to Daniel Ellsberg.

I Don't Think Kristen Stewart's cheating and Miley Cyrus's hairstyle should be such front page news.

I Don't Think standing near microwaves is wholly safe. There is something creepy about those radio waves pulsing through that little metal box.

I Don't Think people read books anymore.  In this day and age they go for 5 minute articles and skimming magazines rather than camping out in an armchair with Hemingway for a few hours.

I Don't Think people understand just how much Elvis derived his music from the hits of black musicians.  He was a means by which whites could listen to black music...made by a white guy. So politically correct.  As Robert Walser put it, "many Americans wanted black music without the black people in it."

I Don't Think highly of people that deny global warming. They are idiots.
My family just returned from a cruise to Alaska, where they saw the Mendenhall Glacier, which won't be around much longer.  Look at the scary difference that happened over only 17 years!

I Don't Think the true peril of the Cuban Missile Crisis is appreciated, particularly today.  Students perceive it as "that one thing between Russia and JFK, and Cuba was involved in there somewhere..." rather than being a breath and awry political statement away from nuclear war.

I Don't Think modern fancy XBox and other such games with incredible graphics even compare to the original Nintendo (I'm talking NES and Super) games.  I'll take Bubble Bobble, Paperboy, Mario, and DonkeyKong any day over Modern Warfare 3 and Halo.

I Don't Think socialized healthcare (such as NHS) is as great as everyone thinks.  The crap they've put my best friend through in the UK is a testament to that.

I Don't Think parenting is as good as it used to be.  Remember growing up when we could be away from our parents and still behave well because of how they raised us (and we were afraid they would find out and we would be in trouble)?  That is rare today! People are letting technology raise their children and it is scary.  The hands-on teaching and discipline is gone.
When I go to the pool and hear 11 year olds screaming slurs at each other that I didn't even know of until I was 18, and see 5 year olds with their own iPhone, and 10 year olds dressed like 17 year olds, I shudder.

I Don't Think The Great Gatsby will ever get old.

I Don't Think I should have to spend 3 hours on the phone with my medical insurance trying to explain issues to them 6 times over because they aren't listening to me...and I have already called 4 times about the same issue.

I Don't Think Everclear should be sold legally.

I Don't Think people should make such a fuss about a political candidate's stance on abortion.  Even if someone gets elected president, they can't just legalize it or ban it.  I understand some voters may perceive it as a way to judge a politician's values, but the crux of the whole abortion debate is that it is a personal choice.  Period.  I don't think it should even be brought up.

I Don't Think the hypocrisy surrounding the death penalty is considered much.  This isn't me saying I am for or against execution, this is me being bewildered at the way we treat prisoners we are going to kill.  Like the Last Meal concept; we serve a prisoner any food that they want, fulfill their wishes in a gesture of sympathy, only to take their life the next day.  It clearly has something to do with Christ, and the original "Last Meal" but it is so bizarre and obviously has more to do with clearing the conscience of the executioners than anything.  And using an alcohol swab on the prisoner before they are lethally injected? Why!?!

I Don't Think I will ever own "too much tea."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Curse of the Chocolate Chip Cookies

What a bloody disaster. Literally.
As I type this, I am smeared with chocolate and covered in bandaids.
And let me tell you, blood and melted chocolate is not a good look, despite what the modern vampire franchise may lead you to believe.

And there is currently a mess unlike any other I have ever created in the kitchen that makes me seriously consider calling the Disaster Kleenup people.

I don't even want to take responsibility for this one. I am going to blame it on my Chocolate Chip Cookie Curse.

This is the story...

I never made chocolate chip cookies as a kid.  We made other delicious desserts that were more unique, and mainly based on our Scandinavian heritage-- krumkake and spritz cookies and banana bread, that sort of thing. We left the chocolate chip cookie making to others, since they are common and easy to come by.

But I do enjoy a chocolate chip cookie. And my husband absolutely loves them.
We got a nice mixer as a wedding gift and I enjoy baking, so months ago I tried my first batch of chocolate chip cookies.
It didn't go well.
I ended up dropping 3/4 of the batch on the floor. No idea how, it just happened.  I had a rack of cooled cookies on the counter and a fresh batch on a cookie sheet in my hand and the oven mitt slipped and it knocked into the others and BOOM. Dozens of fresh cookies all over the floor. I was like "Whaaaaaat?! How did this happen?!" and was frustrated.

A couple weeks after that I made some spritz cookies.  They are a buttery white delicious Scandinavian cookie, and my aunt gave me a special press for them that you load the dough into and it makes gorgeous, elaborate cookies.  They are incredibly fussy to make, much more complex than chocolate chip cookies, and I made a double batch. It took all day and went off without a hitch.

So I went back to the chocolate chip cookies.
The second time, there was a fire.
I don't even know how it happened. I don't want to talk about it.
It was traumatic and I waited a couple of months to work up the nerve to attempt it again.

And let me mention I made plenty of things in the interim, all without a problem.
Only the chocolate chip cookies...those damn chocolate chip cookies that have become my baked good nemesis.
And I am using the most basic recipes too.  I literally found one online called "no-fail chocolate chip cookies."  The name clearly did not apply in my case.

This third time, I made some kind of rock cookie.
I don't know if one of the ingredients was expired or what, but they were the strangest texture I have ever seen and as they cooled they became dessert cement. Inedible. Eli and I tried one and it was disgusting.  I tried to fix the batter, but that was a failure.  And as I tried to scrape them off the cookie sheet to throw them away, they would not come off the cookie sheet.
I soaked them in steaming water and soap overnight.  They wouldn't budge.
I had to toss the whole affair--concrete cookies, cookie sheet, and all.

But still I thought I could conquer those cookies.
Today was my day! I prepared the whole kitchen, Mare-proofed it, if you will, in anticipation of any possible disasters.  I was painfully meticulous, tediously and slowly getting it all ready.
The dough turned out perfect, I camped next to the oven door while they baked to be prepared for any possible burning or fires, and they tasted sooooo good.
I had done it! But, being wary of tempting fate, I didn't exclaim or pump my fist in the air, because I knew it wasn't over yet.
So I did a couple batches and went to the living room to sit down because I have a headache (probably from being so incredibly focused on making these stupid cookies).
And suddenly I heard a metal crash, a clang, and a very loud shatter.
I jumped up and ran to the kitchen, and there were cookies and cooling racks all over the floor, mingled with brandy and chunks of glass.


is what I would have said if I could speak.  But I was literally speechless.
When words finally came to me, I croaked "what the hell?!"
My nice new bottle of brandy had somehow come off of its upper shelf and...I don't know, knocked into the cooling rack full of cookies on its way down, and then the whole mess exploded on the floor?
All I can think of is that there was a minor earthquake.
And then a baby aftershock,
because as I crouched on the floor, wearing dish gloves (the only thing I have around here to protect my hands as I pick up glass), still whispering "what the hell?" to myself,
another glass bottle toppled and landed right in front of me, shattering even more thoroughly than the first one.

I can't even tell what the bottle was from, it cracked so thoroughly.
There is glass EVERY.WHERE.
Under the fridge, under the stove, stuck into the side of the trash can.. Jagged, nasty, minuscule shards. The kind of glass I know we will be not-so-happy to discover 4 months from now early in the morning as we stumble into the kitchen barefoot.

I still cannot fathom how it happened.
I have enough dough in the fridge for another batch, but I am terrified of what may happen if I attempt to bake it! The apocalypse? A tornado outside my window?
I have been cleaning in there for an hour (apparently rubber gloves are crappy protection against very sharp glass, hence the blood I mentioned at the beginning), and it is still a warzone.

My headache has become a migraine and I am taking a brief rest from the endeavor.
Let me share the damage.

 This is a fun concoction of brandy, cookie crumbs, and glass. I like to call it "Sweet Death."

The question is, do I dare attempt to finish the batter in the fridge? Do I risk ever making chocolate chip cookies again?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rolling with the punches

What a week this has been!
We celebrated Eli's birthday in style, I was made an auntie (again!!) and get to meet my new nephew tonight, hit a new high score on my bowling record (128!), went for a gorgeous hike around a gorgeous lake, and got emotionally socked in the gut.

I don't have the time or energy for details now, but I will give you the basics:
I finally have a diagnosis as to what is the main source of my health problems as of late, and have been going through a healing process with that, which will be ongoing. It demands everyday strengths that are mentally painful and difficult, and involve conversations I have never had before.

But I can feel myself growing stronger through it...almost as though I can feel my emotions flexing new muscles! Isn't that strange?

And through this newfound strength I was able to sever ties with a friend that hasn't been a real friend as of late, but I kept hoping things would get better. She is going through a lot herself and though I tried to help, she kept pulling away and I was always the one initiating the friendship.
Those closest to me knew what was going on, and tried to nicely tell me that it was time to end things because her selfishness was wearing on me, but I just wouldn't listen.
It is more complicated in that, but far too much to explain on here. And too depressing.
When I tried to talk to her, she was instantly aggressive and on the attack, and that confirmed that it was time to let things fall apart.
And I feel better for it.

Whew! Enough with the heavy shit, here are some recent pictures.

Oh, and I golfed on a legit course for the first time, at sunset, in Park City. It was amazing!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Guilty Pleasures

Not sure how "guilty" some of these are, but these are the things I savor and look forward to. And tend to overindulge in!!

Extra chewy brownies

Driving fast on the highway (I know, I know....)

Watching hours and hours of I Love Lucy on Sunday mornings

Cream cheese wontons. I could literally eat these every day and be happy.  In this same vein, I am addicted to potstickers and California sushi rolls.

14 Hands Merlot

The Neil Diamond Greatest Hits Collection

Reading by the pool


Playing Nintendo for hours on end (yes, the old school stuff).

Browsing and buying pets

Watching Cops with Eli and doing our own voices for the cops/criminals

Homemade salsa (I eat it by the bowlful!)

Re-reading Harry Potter books. All day.


Face masks and Benefit products

Going to the movies (they are so ridiculously expensive now that this is a real treat!)

Pizza and beer

Antique shops

Popcorn, especially kettle corn

Libraries and bookstores. If I drag you in, who knows when you'll escape!

Gin & tonics with extra extra lime. Especially a guilty pleasure if drunk while in a bubble bath with a book.

History trivia

Scented oils

Shooting pool

Candy-- namely lollipops, Nerd Ropes, Snickers, Swedish Fish, and anything Cadbury

Anything involving the ocean

Jams and jellies (I can't list how many I have in the fridge right now)

Scary movies

Del Taco at 2am after spending a tipsy night out


And I don't plan on giving any of them up!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I can't seem to read the Washington Post, or watch CNN, or basically visit any political website without hearing about Mitt Romney.

But not about him as a candidate, just more of the blather about his money.
How many more hashtags do I have to deal with?  #crook #cheater #richbastard #hatesamerica.
Grow up! Educate yourselves! Don't take the slander at face value?!

The guy is rich.
Is that wrong?  That question is highly existential, but the answer  He isn't running a sweatshop, he has worked hard to make some honest dough.

He doesn't have to pay very much in taxes (compared to what he is making, his taxes are ridiculously low), but that has nothing to do with him--he is following tax code provisions and has exemptions because of his company ownership.

Do you really expect him to stand up and volunteer to pay more taxes, in order to right this wrong?  The government and IRS need to take responsibility for that one.

Yes, the fact that he is in the same bracket as a lot of blue collar workers is depressing, but he has also created a lot of jobs for people. Which is nice.

But that doesn't satisfy people. So bring on the attacks about his offshore investments.
What about George H.W. Bush and Zapata?
His investments are his own personal matters and as long as he isn't donating to al-Qaeda, big whoop. Other men in power (and presidents themselves) have done incredibly suspicious and wrong things while actually in office that had nothing to do with the welfare of the country.
Come on, Mitt Romney isn't a spy engaged in some international plot to overthrow America financially, or to somehow gain the office of president in order to defraud the country.

Yes, the fact that he is the first presidential candidate with a Swiss bank account is strange, but it is not strange for wealthy Americans to have Swiss bank accounts. He just happens to be running for the presidency. He's had a booming career in the private sector, so what? It's his money!
Having a Swiss account doesn't make him any less American, and the people that believe that crap are the same ones who think his name is short for "Mittens."  Mitt isn't even his first name people, and it isn't an abbreviation.

We could use someone that knows how to make and invest money to help our economy.

And the real irony here is that Obama is attacking Mitt for "outsourcing" and investing overseas, when he himself has invested nearly half a million buckaroos in an index fund with major holdings in companies famous for their outsourcing.
Oh, and he's taken hundreds of thousands in donation money from executives at Bain.

People got upset about the demand for Obama's birth certificate and this is becoming just as absurd.

So can we just move on to what these candidates are going to do for the country?
When will the hypocrisy and stupid character attacks stop? It's bad enough that the bigwigs are engaging in this, but when middle America repeats it and distorts the truth, it truly becomes a shitstorm of misinformation and factoids, which are dangerous.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Things you didn't know about Jack

I should be cleaning/cooking/being productive, but instead I'm doing this post.
It won't be long, just a quick minute to squeeze in some details on JFK that your life may be missing.

He was a Gemini.

He didn't want to be president, he wanted to be a professor. He loved English.
   But when his older brother Joe Jr. died flying a WWII mission, Jack was expected (and pressured)    to fill his shoes. And because his father, Joe Kennedy had always wanted to be Prez but couldn't, it fell on Joe Jr. And then to Jack (and after Jack's death, to Bobby).

His undergrad thesis was published as the book Why England Slept. He remains the only president to win a Pulitzer.

He was a war hero.

He had Addison's disease and severe back problems, and was in pain most of the time.
He was actually wearing a back brace when he was shot, which prevented him from being able to better duck after he was initially struck in the throat.
It was this pain that also kept him from being able to pick up his children, which caused him much grief.

He pioneered the Peace Corps.

He was the first (and still the only) Roman Catholic to be elected.

He never carried cash with him.

He was the 2nd president with the most pets (coming after Teddy Roosevelt).

He loved daiquiris.

He usually swam twice a day in the White House pool (which was kept at 90 degrees per his request).

His highest rating as president came right after the Bay of Pigs invasion, when he hit 82%!

He was a fatalist and always knew he would not reach old age.  
He predicted his death several times.

He strongly advocated for civil rights and social welfare.

He was going to dismantle the C.I.A.

Well I must dash. Don't you feel smarter now?

A woman who'll kiss on the very first date is usually a hussie

With lyrics like 

"Squeeze her once when she isn't lookin',
If you get a squeeze back, that's fancy cookin',
Once more for a pepper-upper,
She will never get sore on her way to supper."

how can you not absolutely love the song Shipoopi, from the Music Man?!

I grew up on Music Man and absolutely adore it. And today happens to be one of those days when I catch myself humming songs from it under my breath.
Maybe I love it because it is set in Small Town America, during one of my favorite time periods (it is set in 1912 to be exact), when they used to have shoes that buttoned and local ice cream socials.
Maybe it is because there are hilarious raunchy undertones, or maybe it is because there is a crazy kook of a mayor's wife that calls classic literature "dirty books." Or maybe, most of all, it is because the female lead is a stubborn but smart woman named Marian (same spelling as my name!) and she is a librarian.  
Growing up when I told people my name, I used to have to say "Marian, as in Madame Librarian." In fact, when I graduated college, you give the announcer your name on a card and if it has any tricky pronunciations you are supposed to put a note to help guide them.
Sure enough, I wrote (rhymes with librarian) on mine, for fear of being graduated under false pretenses as "Mary Anne." ugh.

I couldn't find the right versions of "Shipoopi" or "Marian" on YouTube, but here is another fabulous number "Ya Got Trouble."


Friday, August 3, 2012

Something there is that doesn't love a wall

"Mending Wall" is my favorite poem by Robert Frost, and one of my most beloved poems in general.
The language, the flow, the meaning of it always get into my bones.
We have a little "poetry wall" at our apartment, where I've framed a few of my favorites and hung them under the wine rack. "Mending Wall" is there, alongside an e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, and W.H. Auden, among others.

It is written in blank verse but has a bit of assonance, and is written so simply. It is matter-of-fact.
The narrator is mischievous and frustrated with his old-school neighbor who insists that the two always rebuild the stone wall that divides their property, always saying "good fences make good neighbors."The narrator sees the fence as outdated and unnecessary, yet helps mend it whenever the something "that doesn't love a wall" tumbles it down.

Some days I feel like the severe neighbor, building the wall back up, and some days I feel like the narrator, spirited and young and laughing at the traditions of others. And some days I feel like the wall itself.

The language of this poem may be confusing to some, but that's ok. Just read it and savor it and picture New England and two men hunched over, lifting stones back into their proper places.
Without further ado, "The Mending Wall".

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Intolerance, served up hot and fresh!

I can't stand it anymore. I've got to say something.  When I checked Facebook this morning and saw some of the shit people are posting I lost it.
Who ever would have thought we would reach a time when biting into a savory chicken sandwich could constitute a political action?

It's absurd to think about politics, God, and sexual orientation all criss-crossing among the waffle fries, and quite frightening. And yet, in a way, fascinating because this whole Chick-Fil-A insanity has in a small and unique way put power in the hands of the people; the new way of expressing antipathy toward gay marriage is to go buy fast food.
I never thought I would see the day!!

Gaging by the rash of emotional Facebook statuses, most everyone has an opinion on this. And these emotions are intense, on both sides of the sandwich.
Some people casually state that they won't stop eating their chicken sandwiches because they will eat what they enjoy regardless of this shitstorm, others are vehemently anti-Chick-Fil-A and urging friends that support gay rights to join, and then of course you've got the nuts crusading for a "traditional" view of marriage (that term sounds so innocent because it leaves out the fact that it is excluding others' rights), and the in-betweens that think the whole thing doesn't matter.

Let me tell you that I think it DOES matter. Doing what is right will never cease to matter.

Standing for your ideals, even on a level that seems as small as where you're going to eat lunch, is part of who you are.
And if you're eating there to promote the limitation of rights for millions of Americans, I feel sorry for you.

And you will lose. It is only a matter of time, and the revolution has already begun. Even now other restaurants are disassociating themselves with Chick-Fil-A, and they have lost thousands of lifetime customers, customers that want to be able to marry whoever the hell they want, customers that believe anyone should have the right to marry whoever the hell they want, and customers that don't follow the intricacies of the issue much but are clear they don't want their money used as a donation via Chick-Fil-A profits to anti-gay organizations.

I understand that you may be committed to equality and still eat there. That is your choice.
This post is mainly me channeling my frustration with homophobia through Chick-Fil-A.
It would be one thing if the owner was outspoken on hating gays. It is completely another to use the money of customers to put his intolerance into action.

I would like to know how many current customers are dedicated and rabid homophobes, and how many don't give a shit and just want to eat their chicken sandwich without it being characterized as a personal statement.

I would also like to know how people would react if the debate were framed in a different light of discrimination.

 For example, statistically the number of gays living in America is estimated at 4-9 million.  America's Asian population is in the same range.
So what if Chick-Fil-A decided that Asians were the enemy and started using their profits to keep Asians down?  There would be an outrage.
Because IT ISN'T FAIR.
Don't you think fairness should apply to ALL AMERICANS, regardless of their sexual orientation?
It is pathetic the way that people think they are doing something Christian, that they are preserving the holiness of matrimony by picking and choosing who can say "I do." As if they have the right to. As if they are better because they were born differently.  Most of the people disgracing the name of marriage are heterosexuals that cheat on their spouses of otherwise abuse the sanctity of marriage, not couples that deeply love and respect one another, and happen to have the same set of genitals.

I know this may shock some of you but... God doesn't hate gays. God doesn't hate anybody.  God did not write the Bible, contrary to popular belief. A group of about 40 dudes, all with their own beliefs and biases, wrote the Bible over a couple hundred years. That is why different books within it have such different tones/styles/messages.  Don't get confused--I am not trying to discredit the Bible or hate on some pretty talented ancient authors--the Bible is a lovely book with a nice message most of the time, like that of Psalms 145:9: The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.
Or Lamentations 3:33: He does not enjoy afflicting or bringing grief to the children of men.
I feel that one's true beliefs are in one's heart, and that individuals should base their decisions as such, rather than quoting the beliefs of others.

In conclusion, just remember that a similar issue of prejudice was at its peak in this country 50 years ago, and we now have a black president.  Like I said before, it is only a matter of time.

So friends (and you know who you are), keep your heads up.  Maintain your dignity, and do not sink to the depths of your enemy.  They can look like jackasses without your assistance.

This debate, now revolving around that symbolic chicken sandwich, certainly shows us that hatred never tasted so good.