Friday, August 31, 2007

Dear Miss Manners

A friend shared this dilemma earlier today:

I have a handyman who comes every couple of months to do projects around the house... today he's replacing an old AC wall unit.

Every time he comes he does the same thing: He waits for about an hour and then asks to use the bathroom... where he sits and releases what my brothers would call a "gorilla dump" in there.

Every time he comes I forget that this will happen.

Every time he does this, I go into a little shock and remember that he does this.

The BAD part is that my "old style florida bungalow" doors are those slatted louvre doors that really do not mask the sound, and CERTAINLY do not contain the smell of what he's doing.


Here's the question: HOW rude is it to suddenly start spraying my expensive Whole Foods Air Freshener after he's done?

Provisional Membership

[T]he GOP seems to find the existence of gay people, at least gay Republicans, an especially inconvenient truth.
This op-ed got me thinking. The Republican Party and the Catholic Church have a similar attitude toward gays: We're happy to have you ... as long as you embrace our positions wholeheartedly while working directly against your self-interest, or at least turning a blind eye. Don't even think about having sex, or raising the topic, because we can tolerate you only if we think of you as eunuchs. And no complaints -- you're lucky we opened the door at all.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

First Aide

After all that frustration, I seem to have found myself an aide. She's been at it for two weeks now, and she's kind, calm, capable, and dependable. Having three young kids is probably good practice for this sort of work. And she wears scrub tops with cartoonish patterns
-- the kind pediatric nurses favor to comfort young patients. The tactic works.

Most aides insist on shifts of at least four hours, but Nicole was perfectly willing to work three. Even with that, I've let her go early every day so far. No point sitting around watching stories with me when the work's done.

I was going to say this was my first experience being bathed by a stranger, but then I remembered my 20s. It's certainly the first time I've paid for the favor. And it was surprisingly easy to get used to.

Strange Ways

A prisoner is searched in his cell at Strangeways Prison, Manchester, England.
From Picture Post - 4682 - The Life of a Prison Officer – 1948.
(Bert Hardy/Getty Images)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Penny for Your Thoughts?

How 'bout your poetry?

And to think people questioned her talent ...

Secret's Out

I hate to disappoint, but most of this is news to me. Obviously I don't spend enough time at Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Last Laugh?

One more series from French and Saunders of "Ab Fab" fame. Someone tell Netflix.

Good Times

A policeman joins in with the festivities at the Notting Hill Carnival
in west London, 1978. (Frank Barratt/Getty Images)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blue Gardens

I had no idea landscape history contained such a racy chapter.

Because I'm There

In honor of my stay here, I present this clip in which Miss South Cackalackee makes her point masterfully -- if totally unwittingly.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Going for the Gold

We're off to South Cackalackee in the morning to help the Iglfolks celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Stories of the Week

Signs of Faith

Couple takes transcontinental road trip, notices many wacky church signs. A hobby is born.

Story here. Create your own sign here. (That's my feeble effort below.) Smackdown here. Glory!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I'd love to draw parallels here, but the stories are actually unrelated:

Mission: Control

Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any.
I assumed ALS was to blame for my chronically sore neck, but maybe it's from shaking my head for six and a half long years.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Some Web sites have strangely oblique names, while others are quite straightforward. This one, for example. (Sadly, the gallery is down at the moment.)

I don't know who operates the site, but they're obviously clever, funny, and fed up. My kind of people.

One of the Igljacks' more satisfying hobbies is calling the cops on people who park in handicapped spaces without a placard or plates. It's amazing how often that happens. I want to print up some hot-pink stickers that read: STUPIDITY MAY BE A HANDICAP, BUT IT DOESN'T GET YOU PARKING PRIVILEGES. I'd slap them right on the driver's window, and it would take serious toil to scrape 'em off.

Mr. Motivation

I'm not sure how realistic this guy is, but I give him points for initiative.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Noteworthy Names

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

Harry Jester
Harry Pitt
Green T. Burns
Clayton O. Crapps
(Mr.) Headley Gasch
Roosevelt Taft
John Quincy Adams Toth
Woodrow Wilson
Anita Handler
Pete Pankey
Myrtle Mae Muse
Marilyn Merryman
(Mr.) Oddis Little
Rodney Dingle
Bonnie Bankhead
Leontine Vagaria Porter
Chelivia Hall
Sandy Stone
Perpetua Penney
Betsy Ross
Mayde Strong
Nada Rizk
Rusty Joiner
Richmond Flowers
Daisy Lacy
Emma P. Hurlbut
Opal Doss Spratt
Pearlene Boxley
Hattie Bunch
Joetta Hooker
Gay Fort
Coral Amiga
Pinkie Estelle Creasy Dean
Rayfield Ransom
Dimingus Bundy
Sharon Tate
(Ms.) Orva Clubb
Governor O. Pinkney
May Defandorf Dasch
Melody Downer
Etta Hurd
Mary Magdalene Swann

Special bonus: My friend Kay, an avid Mormonologist, alerted me to this Mormon name generator. My LDS moniker is TrinityMichaelJosef Bracken. (And I make a mean tater-tot casserole. The special ingredient? Durkee French-fried onions.)

In Other Words

My whoroscope today:
CAPRICORN: No moment, however small, is unimportant enough to escape your fierce attention. You see the latent value in what others disregard. Heaven is a series of well-tended details.
You are a tedious control freak with OCD.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Designing Women

I wanted to be an architect from childhood until my late teens, when someone broke the news that I'd have to take math in college. That was a deal breaker for me. (As Teen Talk Barbie said, "Math is hard. Let's go shopping.")

Design remained a strong interest: I poked my nose into every structure that caught my eye (not always with permission), made a few architect friends, and worked happily for five years at the AIA.

As I near the end of the road -- with nary a shekel to spare -- building a dream house is not in the cards. (Unless everyone I know died and left me money. But then who'd come visit?) More attainable, thanks to a generous offer from my mom, is a dream bathroom -- or at least a fully accessible one.

So I was surprised and delighted to be hiring an architect yesterday. She brought her portfolio over, and we were really impressed. "A neat gal," as Dan's mother would say. This project is quite a challenge; I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

U-turn on the Highway to Hell

Hindsight is 20/20 ... until you go blind.

Clearly Dick Cheney really has gone around the bend.

Laws of the Land

It's a good thing I don't live in Indonesia, I'll tell you that. I'm surprised there's anyone left to run the guillotine.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Separated at Birth?

Got my hairs cut today ...

Can't Bear It

Ever wonder what it would be like if 'N Sync had stayed together for another 20 years or so? It ain't pretty.

I weep for my people yet again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

J Is for Joke

Speaking of redneck revelry, big news from Tontitown, Ark.*:

"We'd love to have more," Michelle said, adding that the girls are outnumbered seven to 10 in the family. "We love the ruffles and lace."
If there are no posts tomorrow, you can assume it has something to do with the ice pick I hammered into my skull.

* Thanks to Kristine for the tip-off. My blood is on your hands, missy.

Alternative Olympics

What is it about mud?

Good Clean Fun

Three Wisconsin teens attempt to tackle a pig during a wrestling match
at the 37th annual Round-up in Stephensville, Wis., on Aug. 12.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Unfortunate Monogram

There was a reference in today's Post to a Maj. Gen. Peter U. Sutton.

I think I might drop the middle initial if I were in his shoes.

Solitary Man

I first discovered Chris Isaak exactly half my life ago, when I befriended a group of Northern Californians spending a semester in London, as I was.

He's a born entertainer, and I've been lucky to see him perform live on two occasions. Both shows were great -- but, sadly, neither featured anything like this. Which of course brings to mind the memorable quote from onetime girlfriend Margaret Cho.

Hard to believe he's 51 now.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sworn Virgins

"A woman is a sack made to endure."

Most people make compromises in life, but not to this degree.

"Creepy, Naked Babies"

After decades of exhaustive study, I consider myself a connoisseur of creepiness, a maven of the macabre. Bear that in mind when I say that this is one of the most disturbing avocations I've ever heard of. In fact, it's on par with the Santorum clan cuddling a miscarried fetus and snapping its picture for display in the family portrait gallery.

Story here, slide show here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Separate but Equal

Levi's made twin ads -- one straight, one gay. I'd be fascinated to know where the latter aired. (Not in Lynchburg or Colorado Springs, presumably.)

They Grow Up So Fast

You've said it a dozen times: My little Tiffani's cute, but she's too darn wholesome for a four-year-old. Or: I wish Makayla didn't look so lifelike.

Perhaps you think your Madisyn might have what it takes to fill JonBenet's tiny stilettos but don't want to shell out big bucks until you're sure. Or maybe you just wonder what your toddler would look like as a hooker. It's only natural.

Now all of these questions can be answered through the magic of photo retouching, done by an actual pageant mom (daughters: Ashlyn and Vianne). So pretty. So glamorous. So very, very wrong.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bad Day at the Ball Game

In today's Times, another look at the strange relationship of Bush père et fils.

To me, the most telling point is that Poppy has "expressed irritation" at various aides instead of at his son. That suggests how Junior became such a screw-up in the first place: the blame was always placed somewhere else.

The friend who forwarded the story was more perturbed by Dad's Little League analogy: "Aw, kiddo, you're not doin' so well in the kids' baseball game -- you killed 3,000 of your teammates. Gosh dang!!!"

Fall in Paris

What a sight.

Maybe It's Maybelline

Donje Ljubinje, Kosovo: At a traditional wedding ceremony, Kosovar-Bosnian bride Rasima Biljibani's face was painted to prevent bad luck.
(Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"By dint of railing at idiots, one runs the risk
of becoming idiotic oneself."

Gustave Flaubert

Mixed Messages

There's something oxymoronic* about this concept.

It reminds me of football games between my alma mater, Guilford College, and nearby Elon, pitting the Fighting Quakers against the Battling Christians.

* Or maybe it's just plain moronic.

Blather, Rinse, Repeat

Several years ago, we hired a contractor to install some doors. When he finished with the carpentry, he turned his attention to me.

Did I know that God could heal me? he inquired.

Physically? I asked, incredulous.

Yes indeedy, he assured me. To which I could only respond: Well, He isn't doing a very good job.

Somehow I managed to change the subject, but when the guy came back to finish, he thoughtfully slipped a couple of booklets through the mail slot as I skulked in the back bedroom, pretending to be out/napping/hanging from a light fixture.

One of those booklets recently surfaced in the towering pile o' crap on my desk. Having no alternatives, I took it into the bathroom and began perusing. Not only did the literature have the desired laxative effect, I discovered something revolutionary.

The first thing you learn in Club ALS is that the sole treatment is a surpassingly expensive drug that might give you an extra three months. That's it. So you can imagine my surprise when I read that complete recovery is not only within my grasp, but easy!

All I have to do is recite some affirmations (or confessions, as the author curiously calls them) as prescribed: To be spoken by mouth* three times a day until faith comes, then once a day to maintain faith. If circumstances grow worse, double the dosage. There are no harmful side effects.

The general prayers are followed by ones tailored to various types of ailments -- none of them neurological, unfortunately. Maybe I can remedy that once I'm healed.

The author's literalism had its appeal, although it seemed to wear a little thin towards the end of the 46-page tome when he argued that saying "My back is killing me" can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. My favorite example was the woman who developed a mysterious fever after carping "That just burns me up" one too many times. Call me a skeptic, but that sounds a touch simple.

Gotta go -- it's prayer time.

* Apparently anal recitation isn't as effective.

Losing Faith

When Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers.

As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show.

I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people's lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier.

But during the eight years I covered religion, something very different happened....
Quite a good read.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fall Guys (and Gals)

I admit it: I laughed at the clip of Beyonce falling off the stage. In fact, I was cackling just as hard the third time they played it. If anyone's earned the right to enjoy things like that, I have. So shut the hell up.

Anyway, Beyonce has plenty of company:

Art in Unlikely Places

A subscriber and regular contributor sent me this link, suspecting I'd appreciate it. She was correct.

They're beautiful -- in fact, I think I'd feel kind of bad using one. And they give vivid meaning to the expression flushing your money away. With prices starting at $6,500, them's some mighty pricey pissoirs.

Baby's Best Friend

Zap's specialty is "Happy Birthday," but I'm thinking of expanding his repertoire. There's nothing like accompaniment when you're singing the blues.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Dear Architects

Having spent years as an editor at the American Institute of Architects, I found this hilariously apt.

Aspiring Human Torch

This guy wants to be an Olympic torch bearer. Talk about tempting fate ...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sex Education

This study got a lot of media coverage this week. My first thought was, Who needs a reason for sex? Many of them are hilarious, though. For example:
  • I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
  • Someone dared me.
  • I wanted to get rid of aggression.
  • I wanted to hurt an enemy.
If you have your own compelling reasons, there's a link at the bottom of the story. And please share them with me!

Armed and Dangerous

Funny. And he makes a good point.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Red Herrings

On Monday, July 30, 2007, JUSTIN DEMETRIUS HERRING and JEREMY HERRING of Silver Spring, MD, went home to meet their savior, Jesus Christ. Beloved sons of Thurman Herring, Jr. and Katrina Herring; grandsons of Herbert and Wilhemina McLean. Also survived by many aunts, cousins and host of relatives and friends.
You'd never know from the above that it was their loving father who sent them home to meet Jesus. With a gun.

The Glamorous Life

(Nice shirt, Joe.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Noteworthy Names

This feature has been dealt a setback by the crash of my primary computer, followed a couple of days later by its backup. All files were lost in the tragedy.

Like Gloria Gaynor and countless other sisters, I will survive. As I salvage the few grimy shards I can and find my way forward through the wispy spirals of smoke, I offer you this. It's a catalogue of celebrity progeny who will grow to resent their parents deeply -- if they don't already -- for their highly unorthodox name choices. Fortunately, there's plenty of money for therapy.

Not Your Average Pet

As someone who occasionally feels overwhelmed by a couple of dogs
-- constant demands for attention, compulsive thievery, chronic puking -- I think I'd find Jessica a bit much. She sure is cute, though ... for now.