"I was told that I would never be allowed on television, and now I gotta try to figure out, who do you have to fuck to get off?"
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
There's a fine line between hobby and obsession, and when someone calls it "crafting," I know they've crossed over. These are the ones who never pause to consider whether those pinecones really need the glitter. The ones who get pissy if you don't lavish enough praise on their popsicle-stick crèche.
Imagine my surprise when a subscriber passed along this link. Such creativity! I'd give it a try, but you'd probably rag me.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Michael Gerson's excitement about the two recent reports of stem cells being created from skin cells is widely shared ["Stem Cells, the Right Way," op-ed, Nov. 23]. But I find his implicit distaste for obtaining stem cells from human embryos hard to understand. He wrote that "it is not a superstition of the Dark Ages to believe that [an embryo] should be valued, instead of discarded like cracked pottery."
In fact, unused embryos from fertility clinics are often disposed of by being incinerated. I invite Mr. Gerson or anyone who shares his opinion to explain why incinerating unused embryos is morally superior to using them as a source of stem cells.
DANIEL H. KOHL
Opponents would have you believe that evil scientists are trying to snatch the very embryos that (churchgoing Republican) couples want to "adopt," which is not the case. The "controversy" is a specious manufacture, and there's nothing pro-life about it.
These people don't believe in evolution, so I shouldn't be surprised that they're still peddling the same junk they were six and a half years ago, when I wrote this:
So I dragged my tired carcass over to Capitol Hill yesterday on an especially muggy afternoon for a hearing on stem-cell research convened by some House subcommittee whose obscurity was matched only by the length of its name. The session was so packed that I had to sit in an overflow room upstairs.
I knew it wasn't going to be smooth sailing the moment I realized the subcommittee was chaired by Dan Burton of Indiana, who is not exactly known for his progressive views. Still, most of the members who spoke were strongly in favor of government funding, including Orrin Hatch, who'd made a special trip over from the Senate just to make the point. Last year I was astounded to find myself on the same side of an issue as Arlen Specter, about the last thing I ever expected to happen, and now I've woken up in bed with Orrin Hatch. It's a funny world.
The real fun began after the members' interminable thank-you-so-much-for-holding-this-important-hearing speeches. Two starry-eyed women explained how they had conceived children – all named after saints, of course – from frozen embryos that might instead have been destroyed in the genocide of evil stem-cell research. (Apparently they didn't realize that the embryo donors would have had to sign a release in order for that to have occurred. Oops.) It seems that their God finds it more natural for the embryos to incubate in a petri dish with all sorts of chemicals while the mothers are shot full of hormones, then injected with the embryos, some of which will die, instead of finding ways for thousands of living people to continue doing so. Their God might want to sit down and have a chat with mine, because they're not on the same wavelength.
That wasn't the best part, though. The highlight was when Mary, Mother of God, asked to introduce her husband. It was totally out of order, but they allowed it. They shouldn't have. Dad held up Matthew and Luke, the miracle babies, and demanded, "Which one of my boys would you kill? Which one?" I was so offended by this cheap ploy, I swear, if I'd been in the hearing room, I would have raised my hand and asked, "Which one cries more?"
Monday, November 26, 2007
The senators were in a state of intense frustration and kept asking what we thought they could do to prevent the President from further escalation. One's suggestions were lame -- a fund cut-off bill; demanding a meeting with the President; going to the country. One can understand their sense of impotence and their rage.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., May 11, 1972
Why anyone ever supposed that Vietnam so involved the American national interest or so threatened the security of the United States as to justify the frightful slaughter and destruction we have brought to this remote and alien country And what it also displays, at interminable length, is the frightening combination of certitude, misjudgment and ignorance that went into the making of decisions. . . . It is not a record of wickedness or criminality; it is rather a record of glibness, illusion and intellectual mediocrity.
July 13, 1971
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
One day she left a note on my desk. While I don't think of myself as a pack rat, I've kept it all this time even though I lost touch with her years ago.
Just a few quotes to help you keep everything in proper perspective.
"The truth was that her funds, as usual, were inconveniently low; and to neither Dorset nor his wife could this vulgar embarrassment be safely hinted."
"She had been brought up in the faith that whatever it cost, one must have a good cook and be what Mrs. Bart called decently dressed."
"Mrs. Bart's worst reproach to her husband was to ask him if he expected her to 'live like a pig'; and his replying in the negative was always regarded as a justification for cabling to Paris for an extra dress or two...."
-- The House of Mirth
Alas, there was no French couture in my life then or now, much less a cook.
A couple of summers ago, I was thrilled to visit The Mount, Wharton's estate in the Berkshires. What sparked this little reverie, though, was a fascinating article sent the other day by another Wharton-admiring friend. Check it out.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I had the pleasure of escorting her mother's elderly next-door neighbor, who contributed some fruit cocktail with an expiration date in the Carter years. In the food line, she dug through the chicken nuggets with singular focus. "Can I help you, Nancy Ann?" asked Caroline's brother. "I'm looking for a drumstick," she replied, blissfully unaware of the futility of her quest. Nancy Ann has since retired to the great buffet in the sky, where I hope she has all the drumsticks she wants.
Those of you who know Caroline won't be at all surprised to learn how she teaches her boys the concept of Thanksgiving. Their tradition was captured by not one but two local TV stations. Printed article here. I couldn't be prouder to know her.
The pattern is predictable: Every November I get impatient waiting for the official Walk to D’Feet ALS tallies, and I go ahead and write my report. How can I pass up an occasion as appropriate as Thanksgiving? Maybe if I didn’t have good news to report – but thanks to you, I always do.
Each year the Jackals set a new record, only to surpass it the following year. For 2007 our goal was $30K. We reached it well before the walk and kept right on going. As of today, our team total is an astounding $44,631. (Last year, for reference, the figure was $39,108.)
For those of you who couldn’t be there in person, Walk Day was perfect – not a term I use lightly. The weather was warm and sunny, the mood equally so. First-timers are invariably amazed by what a cheerful occasion it is. Many of them become regulars, and so the Jackals grow. We also have an incentive that no other team can offer: the postwalk brunch at Jane and Barney Finn’s, which has become as much a tradition as the walk itself. (Truth be told, it’s probably the real draw.)
I’ve described ALS as a family disease, and the same is true of this event. The Jackals wouldn’t be so successful without our strong tribal network. Besides my family, Dan’s, and the Finns, there is Kay Adler, a fundraising force of nature. She and her mother, Karel, set a high standard for everyone else, and it works beautifully. Then there’s Caroline Stopyra, who not only drove up from North Carolina for the walk, she returned the following week to run the Marine Corps Marathon, also to benefit the Jackals. Her mother, Claudette, provided our team T-shirts for the fourth (!) time – a big hit this year in lavender. And of course, the Jackals themselves are a family, with some of the same people walking for eight years now and new ones always joining.
When you consider all that, it’s not so surprising that I’m still skulking around nearly 11 years after that onerous diagnosis. Thank you so much for supporting me and everyone else served by the ALS Association. May you have as much reason for gratitude this Thanksgiving as I do.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Now the secret's out -- part of it, anyway. One of my shipmates has come across instructions for making an elephant. There are how-tos for various other varmints, but not the stingrays that greeted us the day Steve Irwin met his dramatic demise. That still makes me chuckle.
Friday, November 16, 2007
* Is it my imagination, or did they make her look remarkably like Ellen DeGeneres?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Today he sent two BBC stories that have nothing to do with each other but are both intriguing. The first is charming, the second decidedly not.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Repairmen, I've found, are repositories of human-nature anecdotes. With access to so many homes, they see the whole glorious gamut of domestic pathology, and they're often happy to share.
We recently had the gasket replaced on our freezer door. It's only five years old, which for some reason led the repairman to tell us about a call he'd received to look at a 28-year-old refrigerator.
The appliance, he quickly determined, needed several new parts and would have cost at least $1,500 to repair. The bigger problem was that said parts were no longer available. By some miracle, the homeowners still had warranty coverage, and the repairman announced the good news that they'd get a brand-new $1,400 fridge gratis.
The husband's response was the same as yours, mine, or any sane person's: "Thank God!"
The wife, on the other hand, dissolved into hysterics, weeping and imploring the repairman to fix the ancient icebox. Why? Because the thought of breaking up her cherished set of coppertone appliances was just too much to bear.
Her poor spouse gamely offered to paint the new fridge to match. I'd love to know if he did.
Special coppertone thanks to Derek for finding this classic picture after I gave up in frustration.
As I watched this tasty item, served up by a diligent contributrix, it occurred to me that Jesus seems to appear disproportionately on the bread products of working-class Christians. Much the way UFOs are sighted only in rural areas, often in the South. If He really wanted to make a splash, He'd pop up on a brioche or a matzo. That would be newsworthy.
I love when the daughter is asked, "Why do you think that God would want to put that message on a pancake?" Duh. It was obviously the best way to get her attention. Worked, didn't it?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sometimes the review's a better read than the book:
There are object lessons aplenty here: Be nice! Especially to your family. Don't kill anybody. And if you do, for goodness sake, think it through! Anyone who reads this rancid drama will be smarter than its protagonists.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
You can imagine how dismayed I was when someone sent me this clip. Not only are these "gentlemen" parading about in public, they're on stage. Singing! I'd heard that Scandinavia was permissive, but I didn't realize it extended to such shameless spectacles as this.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
A couple of days ago I forwarded pictures of an ... unusual ... wedding cake. One correspondent came back with this, while another offered this. Very different but equally riveting.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
My mother recently received a complimentary copy of a new magazine. The cover letter breathlessly enthused that, given how well they knew her, they were certain she'd be enthralled by their offering and want to subscribe immediately.
The publication? Garden & Gun.
How well they know her. She's an avid gardener, true, but also a Quaker and all-around lefty. And the tagline ("21st Century Southern America") just made her laugh, which probably wasn't what they were aiming for. Oops.
I know what you're thinking -- and no, I did not put her on their mailing list. She was equally horrified and amused, and the only thing she can think of is that she once toured some new homes in a gated community in North Carolina when she was there for a nephew's wedding. (I was with her, but I use a fake name and address when asked to sign a registry. Clearly my loss in this case.)
What about you -- are you a Garden & Gun guy or gal?
Garden & Gun attracts men and women who embody the active, outdoor lifestyle, and have an eye for beauty, an ear for fine prose, a passion for the Southern landscape and waters.
One reader wrote recently, "I am a 44-year-old avid hunter and saltwater fly fisherman. I also like a great bottle of wine and 700 thread-count cotton sheets on my hunt camp bed."
Among the links at the first site was this one, also clearly named. Less than two weeks old, there's not much to peruse yet, but it invites submissions. I could fill up several screens without even thinking about it.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I received the same email twice in as many days. So captivating was it, I decided to track down the source, which was surprisingly difficult.
Now, if only someone could find me pictures of coppertone appliances. My own efforts have been completely fruitless.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Today I received this link, which I was planning to share even before coming across this one. I have no idea which came first, nor does it matter (except, perhaps, to Tony Orlando and his attorneys). The guy in the first clip gets points for the live performance, but the lyrics in the second are inspired. Enjoy.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
In the interest of full disclosure, I should share a painful memory. When I was six or seven, my prized "coonskin" cap, perhaps an hour old, went flying off my head on this very ride. Or maybe it was Pirates of the Caribbean. Anyway, the experience was deeply traumatic. Maybe if people had been heavier back then, the boat wouldn't have been able to go so fast.
See you in Tomorrowland, fatty.