Saturday, October 28, 2006

Heading for the Hills

The Igljacks -- bipeds and quadrupeds alike -- are headin' to West Virginny for a couple of days of fall color. We'll be here until Tuesday.

Extreme Pumpkins

Some seasonal inspiration.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Living the Dream

Talk about committed fans ...

Stretching the Boundaries of Torture

I found the 10th circle of Hell this morning, and it took me ages to claw my way out.

After reading a reference in the paper to John Ashcroft's "Let the Eagle Soar," the song -- if you can call it that -- burrowed into my brain like a botfly, playing in an endless taunting loop until I nearly lost the precious remaining shreds of my sanity. I was finally able to exorcise the evil by crawling to the stereo and turning on good music -- loud -- for several minutes.

I'd honestly rather be waterboarded or have electrodes attached to my naughty bits. Which got me thinking: Do you suppose they "Ashcroft" the "guests" at Guantanamo? I'd say anything they wanted just to make the bad noise stop.

Click the link above for the full version ... if you dare.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Paging Dr. Limbaugh

The intersection of ignorance and stridency has always been a busy and dangerous place, and it seems especially so these days. Teeming swarms of foolish, ugly-minded people desperate to be heard at any cost.

Yesterday an especially shrill voice managed to rise above the din. It belonged to that porcine man with the crazy eyes. He was standing in front of his alma mater, the Bill Frist School of Neurology, apparently still in withdrawal from his OxyContin habit. This is what he had to say.

Hateful? Extremely. Wrong? Completely. It would be laughable if he didn't have such a big audience. But he does. And they vote.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Hero

Now more than ever.

This effort could actually make a difference. A friend pointed me to a related two-part interview here and here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Epileptic or Alcoholic?

Waiting for a train in Boston today, friends were treated to an impromptu performance:

Act I: A woman shrieks at her companion, berating him loudly, publicly, and at length.

Act II: Shortly thereafter, she falls on the floor in the throes of a seizure. A pair of "shockingly fat" EMTs arrive promptly. One asks whether the woman is prone to seizures, to which her companion replies: "No, but she is a drunk."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Noteworthy Names

A bumper crop this week:

Rusty Rice
Eulalia Muschik
Mildred Magazine (daughter: Joanne Book; stepdaughter: Phyllis Press)
Marlin Potter
Fernarine Hunter
Hunter Peacock
Velda Pyles
Eugenia Krupsaw
Audray Smoot Blizard
Jewell Poon
Pastina Purnell
James Bond Romans
Lois Shuffles
Pearl Brass
Lonnie and Geneva Lovely
Carolyn Medley
Royal Seymour
Prof. Lucius Outlaw
Elmira Diggs
Rhonisha Good Fortunato
Flossie Prue
Peachie Richardson
Bessie Wigglesworth
Maverick and Maven McGann (brother and sister)
Savannah Hillman
Bambi Goodhew
Mary Perry
Paul Wohl
Ollie Wooden
Darenzo Nettles
Azel Q. and Verna D. Lester
Trendanaia Williams

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Apparently some Catholic seminaries offer a course on the nuances of hairsplitting. Maybe it's a reward for students who show special promise during their training in denial and dissembling. This guy could teach Bill Clinton a thing or two.

So now we know the story of Mark Foley's formative trauma. At least there's one thing he wasn't lying about. And yet, it explains little and excuses nothing.

As Valerie Cherish might have said, "I did not need to see that!" But I did see it, and now you can too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yiddish with George and Laura

This might just as well be called "Yiddish for Democrats."

Virginia v. Virginia: A Primer

From today's Washington Post:

NoVa and RoVa: Welcome to a State Of Disagreement

Recent polls confirm the common assumption that Northern Virginians tend to be much more liberal than those in the rest of the state. In fact, NoVa seems to be a world apart from RoVa (the rest of Virginia). In NoVa, for example, when people speak of a "trailer," they mean a movie ad, and in RoVa "sprawl" is what you do on the couch after Sunday dinner.

Herewith, a few more ways NoVa differs from RoVa:
· In RoVa, they hope the South will rise again. In NoVa, they hope the souffle will.
· In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.
· In NoVa, people spend their dough at Starbucks, shooting the breeze. In RoVa, people spend time in the breeze, shooting does and bucks.
· In NoVa, a "fur piece" is something a woman wears on a special occasion. In RoVa, a "fur piece" is unit of distance.
· In RoVa, people pick blackberries. In NoVa, people click BlackBerrys.
· In NoVa, they listen to NPR. In RoVa, they listen to the NRA.
· NoVa has Crate & Barrel. RoVa has Cracker Barrel.
· NoVa: Chain Bridge. RoVa: Chain saw.
· In RoVa, they like freshly killed venison. In NoVa, they like Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
-- Style staff

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lookin' Sharp

Some truisms truly are true. Like "you get what you pay for" -- when it comes to coiffeur, anyway.

The transition from working girl to welfare queen forced many changes for me. Salon haircuts were one of the first casualties of my austerity budget, and it's been quite a comedown. The chic little storefront has been supplanted by a suburban strip mall, designer robes by tatty nylon smocks, hushed elegance by cacophonous din. "Would you like some herbal tea?" has given way to "NEXT!"

Yesterday I went to the beauty parlor for my monthly rinse-and-set (actually the $14 basic coif at the local Hair Cuttery). I must have been distracted by the cascade of clippings, which at this point seem more salt than pepper, because the result looked OK when I was prompted to give a nod of approval.

An hour later, when I glanced in a mirror at home, there was no denying the ugly truth. I'd been given the Hair Butchery special: the little-retarded-boy cut. Not the dreaded salad-bowl 'do, but the one where the hair is cut in a straight line over the forehead. The kind of haircut your mother might give you in the kitchen, only my mom was never that cheap or that mean.

I like to say that vanity is the first casualty of ALS, but I must have a little left or I wouldn't be burning with shame today. I'm tempted to grab a pair of scissors and go at these bangs myself. With my shaky hands, I'd probably lose an eye, but at least then I wouldn't have to avoid mirrors.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Full Boar Ahead

My uncle was thrown from his motorbike the other day when he swerved to avoid a wild boar.

He's the only person I know who would give me the occasion to write that sentence. In a family that's produced more than its share of colorful characters, Philippe is a standout.

Aside from the occasional brush with death, he leads a fairly charmed existence. Semiretired in Tuscany, he lives in an ancient hilltop farmhouse surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, forests, and a funny little menagerie. It's an open-air museum of Roman and Etruscan history, and the stupendous views include a glimpse of Dante's summer home. So idyllic is the setting, Philippe left San Francisco for it.

This was not his first motoring mishap. A few years ago, driving a load of books to his office, he rolled his car. (A harlequin edition VW Polo, it's a traffic stopper even when it's right side up.) That time the swerve was provoked not by wildlife but by another indigenous phenomenon: a shrine to the Blessed Virgin. Having seen it myself, I can testify that its placement is bizarre and dangerous, jutting distinctly into the road. In Greek mythology the Sirens lured sailors to their deaths, but in modern-day Italy the deed is done by plastic Marys. (Ironically, those shrines tend to be erected at the sites of fatal accidents.)

Fate permitting, Philippe will be 70 next month. He hasn't slowed down much, and he retains my lifelong admiration. I just hope he'll pay careful attenzione as he careens down the road. Because the lesson is clear: If Mary doesn't get you, she might send a boar to do the job.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Noteworthy Names

The latest installment from the ever-growing list of names that have caught my eye:

Geneve Bacon
Aquanetta Gordon
Summer Madrid Smith
September Bottenfield
Amber Boffo Rickhoff
Starchild Abraham Cherrix
Purvis, Elzoria, and Zenobia Bruce
Nathalene and Vernita Faggart
Marlon Brando Gill
Rhodesia Broadnax
Queenester Williams
Heidi Arp-Muckler
Patricia Beachboard Faith
Hazel Brown
(Mrs.) Letchet Brown
Angeline Keister
Berkeley Muse
Turner McNeal Bumbary
Joy Hammers
Ruby Sheetz
Ruby White
Ruby, Winston, and Bertha Beavers
Adelicia Cheatham
Dieter and Twila Blume
Zachary and Diamond Zetty
Dottie Dilts
Herbert Hamburger
Peter Pizza
Fannie Wise
Tawny Hays
Erin Herrin
Dallas, Wanda, and Ila Clem
Genie Foote
Mona Fink
Yetta Fink
Dafna Gakner
Rita Hornyak
MacArthur "Boom Boom" Barber
Oral Butcher
Forrest Painter
Pier Charter
Stetson Tinkham
Loh-Lee Low
Denisha Dempster
Capathia Jenkins
Finley Bugg
(Mr.) Sage Brocklebank
Rhett Butler, insurance agent
Cinnamon Bowser
Latasha Bowser
Verleen Strong
Rider King Strong
Molly B. Goodenough
Stanley Stemp
Gonzetta Burns
Ormond G. Sexton IV
Leroy Hoole
Hazel Hoyle
Monet Spears
Rev. Albertus Bagley Sr.
Wilmer and Elmer Dittman (brothers)
Azalea Ruffin
Pansy McClanahan
Daisy Cherry Maggett
Johnny Suit
Bishop Ozey Lee Thorpe and his twin sister, Okedelia
(Ms.) Trellis L. Waxler, Ph.D.
Lundus Bazemore
Delma Day
Daphne Dentz
Chuck Yob
Chuck Hummer
Napoleon and Fannie Mantilla
Dexter Filkins
Basil Grillo
Lacy Craft
Velvaleen Flannagan
Harmony Ziegler
Misty Steinberger
Octavius Boddie III
M. Belmont VerStandig
Dotson Rader
Lyric Wallwork Winik
(Mr.) Doxy J. Holt
(Mrs.) Lovely H. Rice
Dotsie Mae Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Twila Mae Buttery
Hilda Mae Snoops
Hugh Glukenhous
Mittie Pettaway
Wanda Queen
Queen Street
Queen and Major Douglas
Dawn Valentine
Raulphard Black, Jr.
Rev. Waitstill Sharp
Artemis Joukowsky III
Dr. Mauricio Goldenberg
Ricardo Nixon
Earlene Capers
Curlene Coleman
Virginia Gass
Barbara Ann Lumpkins
Lyman J. Umstead
Candy Tartt
Candy Sneed
Mortimer and Skeets Dittenhofer
Susan Dittenhofer Crickenberger
Kelvin Keith Kiebler
Luvenia Ray
Tubby Stottlemyer
Dieter Funiciello
(Mr.) Ossie K. LaRode
Bland Brockenborough
Sadie Ricketts
Mildred Wampler
Congressman Zach Wamp
DeTonda Clinkscale
Makayla Bottoms
Myrlmarie Farrell
Marthajane Fuss
Velvena Ann Smalls
Donovan Q. Zook
Zachary T. Glamp
Zachary Zetts
Shelva Boggs
Brazil Smith
Cherylene “Twiggy” Billue
Tallulah Fyfe Dempsey
Lula Fones
Wellman Albea Hill
(The late) Yternity Hughley
Manley Pope
Quartella Towles
Willie Wanzer
(Mrs.) Laburne P. Neighbors
Rosie May
Velvet Medlock-Graham
Bear Estrada
Marlys Reedy Meadows
Viona B. Yutzey
Alfreda Alfred
Constantina Batchelor
Lottie "Luvs" Batchelor
Yvette Boykin Chin
Phyllis Rotter Goozh
Dexter Tuthill
(Mr.) Algie Wells
Wannetta Thrift
LaRetta Franz
Michael Fronckel
AlMalik Witherspoon
(Ms.) Starshine Roshell
(Ms.) Sunday Abraham
(Miss) Delight Walker
Maxine A. Crook (and grandchildren Dakota and Cheyenne Crook-Wean)
Ruth Cleverly Klick
McKinley Peebles
Hattie Pursglove
Rusty Featherstone

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Showdown in Suburbia

A white-haired woman with a walker keeps tearing by. Back and forth. I might have to roll out there and challenge her to a drag race.

She's surprisingly speedy, but I bet I could take her. And if I couldn't, I could just run her off the sidewalk. I'll teach you, Loretta.

Monday, October 09, 2006

So Much So Fast

I saw the most amazing film today.

So Much So Fast is a documentary that tells two parallel stories. Stephen Heywood, three years younger than me, was diagnosed with ALS at age 29. The film follows him and his family as the disease progresses, and it's the fullest, most candid presentation I've seen. (Granted, there's no ALS category at the Oscars, but at this point the topic's been addressed quite a few times on the big and small screens.)

The second storyline is about the ALS Therapy Development Foundation, established by Jamie Heywood, who refused to accept that there was no cure for his brother. The group has since become a powerhouse in ALS research. Its sense of urgency is appreciated by all of us who stand to benefit.

If you want an honest and accurate look at what it's like to live with ALS, check this one out. You can sign up through the first link above to be notified when it'll be screened near you. And don't worry: Stephen's still alive when the curtain goes down.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

That Ain't English

You know what I hate just as much as "nucular"? When Bush says "September the 11th," which seems to happen every few minutes.

"September 11th," yes. "The 11th of September," also fine. But "September the 11th" -- what is that? Not English.

You'd think a staff full of speechwriters and other advisers would say something. But then, they probably gave up long ago.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

True Family Values

My master's thesis was on the dangers of politicizing family values. In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne says, "We need to have a long talk" about this.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another Day, Another Eviction

Suburban doors often sport things like Indian corn and wreaths, depending on the season. We follow a different drummer in Parkfairfax, where notices of eviction and condemnation are common adornments. The festive sheets are slapped up prominently -- like a kid's jack-o'-lantern decal, but more sinister.

I've lived in several major cities, and occasionally I'd notice someone's belongings in a heap at the curb. But I never saw a condemnation until I moved to the 'burbs. Last year two units were condemned after a fire. Then they packed away a hoarder. This time it was a paranoid schizophrenic and her elderly father.

She would skulk around the neighborhood wearing a ski parka in the middle of summer, scrawling obscenities on the bus shelters. And I heard she once dropped her pants in the management office to convey that she had a plumbing issue in need of attention. The final straw was when she and her father became convinced that they were being spied on through a wall. Their response was to strike said wall with heavy objects, vigorously and at length. Understandably, the next-door neighbor did not appreciate this. But then, he wasn't being spied on.

The notice on their door says the unit is "unfit for human habitation" but unfortunately doesn't provide details. I must know more.

Just Like Candid Camera

But without Allen Funt.

And in a booth.

Separated at Birth?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Meet My Dog, Punchline

Last night we met a greyhound called Bus.

That's the school of nomenclature that produces whippets called Devo.

Daddy Calls Me Princess

Like most of my friends and family, I'm plagued by constant, low-level anxiety about global warming, terrorism and our response to it, and a general sense that the world is coming to an end. So it's refreshing to discover that some people have more immediate concerns:

Dear Miss Manners:
We are taking a vacation to England this fall, and I have a tiara I wore with my prom dress. What places can I wear it out in England? I know they use them a lot there.

No, not a lot. Not nearly as often as Miss America wears hers, for example.
Elderly British duchesses have been known to get fed up waiting for an opportunity to wear theirs, despairing that when their saucy daughters-in-law inherit them, they will pluck out the gemstones to use for heaven knows what. Probably bellybutton decorations.
This is because tiaras are worn only for full-dress occasions, which nowadays pretty much means only grand state banquets or ceremonies, and the occasional full-scale royal wedding. Perhaps Miss Manners had better explain that full dress means something more than prom wear and the full-scale wedding means something more than a royal second wedding you may have seen on television. In any case, the days of private balls and grand opera nights where tiaras were worn seem to have faded away. Furthermore, tiaras are not supposed to be worn by unmarried ladies, with the exception of those who are being married within an hour of placing them carefully in their hair.
Miss Manners hopes she hasn't spoiled your vacation. You may find there a daring young lady or two who doesn't care about the rules governing tiaras as a sign of rank and wealth and plops something sparkly in her hair to go out dancing. It is just that you are no more or less likely to do so than in the United States.
Besides, tiaras are a nightmare to pack.

I'm a little jealous. I've been to England many times, including a semester in college, and my tiara never left its embossed lizardskin case (except for those inevitable liquor-induced moments when I'd position it carefully atop my raven tresses and gaze wistfully into my dressing-table mirror). Clearly this gal travels in higher circles than I do. Or maybe she's been reading too much Barbara Cartland.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Serious Business of TV News

Broadcast journalists are sometimes accused of lacking gravitas. But where critics see a lack of professionalism, I see refreshing displays of humanness. To wit:

Exhibit A: The manly meteorologist

Exhibit B: Proof that Germans are capable of laughter

Exhibit C: A study in persistence

Exhibit D: Never piss off the graphics crew

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lost Boy

Matthew Fox may be "Lost," but his toolbox is within easy reach.

Pity Colin Powell

Soldier, trouper, company man. Doormat, puppet, patsy.

According to this excerpt from a new book, Bush & Co. began exploiting "the most trusted man in America" long before the infamous U.N. speech.

As eye opening as the piece is, it fails to answer the question that's bothered me for years: Given a nice name like Colin, why does Powell pronounce it like the filthiest part of the human body?