Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dry Season

When most people mention a "friend with benefits," they're talking about no-strings nookie. I've had several such amigos, and it can be a great arrangement. But some friends offer benefits that are just as fun and don't leave a wet spot.

When I met Caroline back in college, she came with an added bonus: her mother. One of the most delightful people I've known, Claudette is warm, hilarious, and irrepressible. She's a born mom, and with my own mother hundreds of miles away, she took me under her wing. Her house was always open for getaways - even after we left a video under a couch, where it was found after many days and a whopping late fee. And when the weather turned especially cold one year, Claudette appeared at the dorm with flannel sheets for a bunch of us. More than 20 years later, she remains a dear friend, ever supportive. She even outfits the Jackals, my Walk to Defeat ALS team.

As important as Claudette makes me feel, I am only a drop in an ocean of beneficiaries. So renowned is her largesse that last month, when she exchanged one holiday tradition for another, it made the newspaper.

All That Jizz

Thrills and spills.

From Riley.


[I]f we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards.
The Royal Navy submarine HMS Starfish passes Tower Bridge in London on its
way to St Katharine's Dock, 7 May 1937. (Moore/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"There’s no shame in being a pariah."

Marge Simpson

Today's Top Story


The War of Northern Aggression

Dan's parents have lived in the Palmetto State for nearly a decade now, but a number of our friends refuse to accept the fact. "When are you off to North Carolina?" they'll ask, or: "How was the weather in N.C.?" It's as if their mental maps stop at the border and they dare not venture beyond. Nothing I've said has made a bit of difference.

I don't remember this happening when the Iglfolks lived on the coast, near Charleston. The problem arose, I think, when they moved inland a few years ago. "It's near Charlotte, but still in South Carolina," I told people, who apparently tuned out in mid-sentence.

Like Sarah Palin and Russia, the Iglfolks can see North Cackalackee from their house; in fact, that's pretty much their view. But they don't live there ... except in the minds of a troubled few.

Anyway, we had a great time, and now we're back in the Holler, where oddly balmy temps and some deferred Christmas shopping got me out of the house a couple of times today.

Nothing Like a Dame

If you can't see the humour in yourself, you could be missing the joke of the century.
From Riley.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Wish You a Scary Cripmas

The other day, for no particular reason, I started ad-libbing to “Jingle Bells,” using gimpocentric lyrics. It was surprisingly easy:
Rolling 'cross the floor
In a big-ass power chair
Watch out for the door
You’re giving us a scare
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” is also readily tweaked:
O come, all ye feeble, crippled and disabled
O come ye, o come ye, however you can
Ramps and elevators, converted minivans
O come, you lazy buggers; you have no excuse
The titles alone are fertile ground: “12 Days of Cripmas”; “Little Wheelchair Boy”; “O Permobil”; “God Rest Ye Very Gimpy Men”; “O Come, O Come, Euthanasia”; “Frosty the Slow Man” …

Snow Job

Accessorize a snowperson for Project A.L.S. Mine looked like a tranny gangsta.

From Melanie.
A woman and a man enjoy a Christmas dinner laid on by the
Salvation Army in Paris, circa 1930. (FPG/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today's Top Story


Shalom, Y’all

Greetings from River Hills, where Christmas is always white – and so is every other day. Sitting before the nine-foot tree, surrounded by a teeming population of Old World holiday figurines with the cable music tuned to the Christmas channel*, I have never felt more Caucasian. Which is saying something.

I wasn’t sure we’d be here, especially today. Having finally shaken a persistent throat-and-ear condition, I was hit Sunday with a sudden case of either meningitis or Asian flu. (Hate to leave you hanging, but my self-diagnosis remains inconclusive.) Flushed, achy, and fearful of infecting others, I reluctantly cancelled dinner with my stepmother and sister, then went to bed, expecting to postpone the trip.

However, I awoke in full remission – a Festivus miracle! – so we hit the road yesterday morning. A gusty forecast turned us off our favored route through the mountains, but traffic was surprisingly light on the dreaded 95 and 85 – just a minor backup in North Carolina – and the iPod was packed with This American Life. We got here in time for dinner.

Sadly, we missed the party at the house next door, which had been under constant construction since the Iglfolks moved here, two and a half years ago. It’s a humble place: only 10,000 square feet, with a dance floor and a video arcade. The home theater has a 102-inch** screen, stadium seating, and floor lighting so litigious guests don’t trip as they navigate the various levels. But the showstopper is overhead: a galaxy of pinpoint lights twinkling across a vast, inky “sky.”

Over here at the Iglhaus, we have to content ourselves with simpler pleasures - like the sunrise that woke us this morning just as it hit the lake.

* Cheesy, yes, but far preferable to a backdrop of Fox “news.”
** Those extra two inches make all the difference, don’t you find?

Sixteen Going on Seventeen

Bedrooms, that is:

From Riley.

From Mary and Marilyn.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Top Story

"Jordyn-Grace was born ... weeks before her due date of Jan. 1."
They're saying it was a C-section, but I bet she just fell right out of that exhausted uterus while Mama was makin' a tater-tot casserole.

From David.

Word of the Year


Amen, Brother

It is difficult to comprehend how our president-elect, who has been so spot on in nearly every political move and gesture, could fail to grasp the symbolism of inviting an anti-gay theologian to deliver his inaugural invocation. And the Obama campaign's response to the anger about this decision? Hey, we're also bringing a gay marching band. You know how the gays love a parade.

Sing It, Sister

This Hilary's as sharp as the other one.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Word of the Day


I knew someone who suffered from this. But it was really his partner who suffered, because whenever he started to respond the sexsomniac would fall back asleep.

From Riley.

Today's Top Stories

From Kristine and Peggy, respectively.

But Wait ... There's More!

Only a week left till Christmas. Here are a few more ideas:

A woman squeezes herself into a transparent suitcase to raise
awareness of human trafficking and mark the 60th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

From Riley.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Apparently I was too subtle - not something I'm often accused of. Excuse me for a moment while I slip back into character.

If you stingy-ass motherfuckers don't start commenting - and continue to do so - I'm going on strike. I share this stuff for your entertainment, not for my own. Think about it: I've already seen everything I post. I talk to myself all day long; I don't need a blog for that.

Don't even bother with the excuses. I've heard them all before, and most are lamer than my withered legs.

As Stephen Colbert would say: You're on notice.

Word of the Day


Provided by Peggy.

Today's Top Story

From Derek, who has a French surname.

'The Reign of Error Is Over'

Generally speaking, I'd rather get a Brazilian wax than watch a Robin Williams monologue, but this one I enjoyed.

From (Aunt) Terry.
Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones at the wheel of his yellow
Morgan Plus 8 roadster in Saint-Tropez, France, 9 May 1971.
(Reg Lancaster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Living End

Another reason to admire Switzerland.

I've never understood the debate over assisted suicide. How could such a thing be legislated? If you're ready to die and your family and doctor are on board, it's nobody else's goddamned business. How obnoxious to think you should have a say in the personal decisions of strangers.

Ironically - to me, anyway - some of the shrillest squawking comes from people with conditions like ALS. They seem to think someone else's action is somehow a judgment on them. To me it's like gay marriage: If you don't like it, don't do it. But don't presume to decide for others.

Why are we so much more sensible with our pets?


Lip Service

Everyone wants a place to call home.


The American Story?

From Peggy.

Uncanny Likeness

A Japanese woman displays a scene of the Obama family
on U.S. election night, part of a toy company's annual tradition
of producing dolls depicting big news events of the year.

From Riley.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

For the Record

The Voice of Reason

Is on our side.

From Ross.


Shell-shocked stockbrokers holding their faces in their hands, choking back screams, like Edvard Munch with big holdings in Washington Mutual. GM stock as valuable as an old pack of gum. Desperate shoppers stomping each other to death at Black Friday sales to save eight bucks on a 29-dollar DVD player that will break roughly four minutes into the third time it plays that "Fred Claus" DVD bought for two bucks at the dollar store. Fun for the whole family.
Mark Morford takes stock.
A trainer sticks his head in the mouth of a killer whale at
Miami Seaquarium, circa 1977. (Keystone/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Monday, December 08, 2008

"Your life story would not make a good book. Don't even try."

Fran Lebowitz

Uncle Sam

"If we all hold hands, we can't fight."

My friend Caroline's given us a couple of pieces by Sam McMillan: a birdhouse and something that's either an umbrella stand or an unusually tall wastebasket. The bright colors and exuberant designs lift my mood every day. Like Prozac, but without the side effects.

He's been profiled in various media and his work's been shown at the Smithsonian, but Sam remains entirely himself. He'll be an honored guest at Caroline's Christmas dinner.

I like his philosophy.

Just in Time

Some gift ideas to help you stand out from the pack:

* In case your list includes any Santora.

** No. 2 would be perfect for Republicam friends and relatives. No. 10 would be perfect for me.

Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Today's Top Story

(Katie Orlinsky)

From Riley.

Another Angel in Heaven

(Providence Journal/AP)

It's well known that Sunny and I were fierce competitors on the badminton court back in the day. What few people realize is that behind the trash talk was a deep and abiding affection. We were like sisters.

The timing is especially poignant because, as everybody knows, Sunny loved Christmas.

Thanks to Terry for breaking the news gently.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Nobody realizes that some people expend
tremendous energy merely to be normal."

Albert Camus

Out in the Cold

It takes something special to get my crippled ass out of the house when it's this cold. Like, say, a musical featuring two of my pet fascinations: socialites and squalor. And what better outing for a shut-in than a play about shut-ins?

For an early Christmas treat, we took girlfriends Bob and Bruce to see Grey Gardens. It was quite good, and the cast stayed after for some Q and A, which always makes me feel special.

Go see it if you have the chance - in addition to, not instead of, the eponymous 1975 documentary. Because that smorgasbord of pathos stands alone.

Fun browsing here and here.

Extra Pulp

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

From Riley.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Today's Top Story

If gratuitous snobbery is a hallmark of success, I guess the gays have arrived:

"A-gays mark measurable societal progress," says Laura Gilbert, editor of the pop-culture website "People can now be out without being expected to swish. It's the Neil Patrick Harris/Portia de Rossi brand of gay."
Doogie doesn't swish? Ms. Lemondrop must not have seen this.

From Derek.

Alter Egos

From Melanie.
Miss Diamond serving doughnuts to American servicemen in a Salvation Army hut on Union Square, New York. (FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images/1918)

From Riley.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Today's Top Story

Be sure to check out all four pictures.

As I remarked to Derek when he sent it, this guy calling himself chubby is like me saying I walk with a slight limp.

Buried Past

Butaeye and Dujardin guided AP journalists through one cave where several hundred people sheltered. It sent shivers down the spine, and not just because of the cold and damp. In a site so well preserved it was easy to imagine the hacking coughs of people packed together, children wailing, and old men groaning, the stink and discomfort, everyone wondering whether the relentless Allied bombing would bring down the caverns and bury them alive.
Slide show ici.


'Like a Rabid Dog'

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

And There Yugo

I actually rode in one once. Up a steep hill with at least two other passengers plus the driver. It was a slow trip, but we made it.

From Derek.

Crunch Time

The mood was modestly upbeat among the kinfolk and the kind strangers who roped me into conversation, betraying little distress over the prospect that next Thanksgiving many of us may be living in rusty sheds and hunting squirrel for food, depending on how all those stimulus packages go.
I can always count James Wolcott for a sane perspective.

Silk Stalking

In case you ever doubted that: (a) some people have entirely too much free time, and/or (b) there's a Web site devoted to just about everything.

From Laura.

From Leslie.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

End Times

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks.

Testing ... Testing ...

I aced this.*

* The second time around. Did better than the November average on my first effort, but not by much. Crappy public schools.

Thanks to Terry for adding to an already crushing sense of inadequacy.
On a tube train actor Ralph Richardson attacks comic actor Jack Hulbert.
They are being directed by Walter Forde (aka Thomas Seymour) in the
Gaumont British film Alias Bulldog Drummond (aka Bulldog Jack)
at Shepherd's Bush Studios, 1935. (William Vanderson)

From Riley.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dark Habit

"You see, this is my life. It always will be. There's nothing else. Just us ... and the cameras ... and those wonderful people out there in the dark."

Norma Desmond, Sunset Boulevard

We didn't realize at the time that we were starting a tradition.

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, sifting through a stack of videos, we picked The Silence of the Lambs. Not your typical holiday flick, but we enjoyed it thoroughly - and now we make a point of screening something inappropriate. This time we watched Sunset Boulevard before dinner and In Cold Blood* after.

* The original, of course. Did you really have to ask?

Thanks to Marty for the transcription - and for the company.

The Queen and I

Good times.

From Riley.

Hold It Right There

What a kick.

From Derek.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zapata Rex

Cloudy eyes, sharp mind
And still the boss of us all
Zap’s fourteen today

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever."

Napoleon Bonaparte

Today's Top Story

From Alan.

Noteworthy Names

Winona Fogg
Storm Sears
Tanner Blaze
Violet Glaze
Diablo Bell
Tisa Horky
Crystal Forgy
Lulu Fluckey
Princess Savoy
Geoff Grewcock
Mary Pettus Cocke
Dick Joy
Dick Hyde
Amy Abel
Birdie Nuckols
Dusty Rhodes
Nobby Stiles
(Ms.) O'Neal Foglesong
Cozy Baker
Savora Matzo
Serenity Morsell
Grace Proud
Blessing Gross
Fairey Swann
Hazel Stone
French Stone
Napoleon Prince
Napoleon Royal
Rexie King
Tyler Taylor
Molly Jolly
Mary Ferry
Mary Berry
Terry Berry
Iris Berry
Prunella Scales
Raine Worme
Rhonda Wilt Keister
Hurdalene Chester
Pernevlyn Coggins
Rhodetta Grasty
Elervisia Cleckley
Icelia Foy
Jinjer Snapp-LaPlace
Ginger Fox
Delite Fox
Elwyn Tinklenberg
Penda Hair
Dr. G.D. Batty
Dr. Edward Staab
Angel Staab
Dawn Venus
Crystale Rose
May Pearl Flower
Amber Olive Greene
Sandra Tsing Loh
Pearl Farmer
Forrest Hunter
Forrest Fewster
Kareema Wheat
Mary Divine
Vardell McPhatter III
Lt. Col. Early Losey
Angeline High
Phil Hollows

Betty White, budget analyst
Thomas Jefferson
Mary Magdelene
Daisy Miller
Nancy Dew
John E. Carson
Kevin J. Bacon
Anthony Perkins

Stuart C. Law, attorney
William W. Headline, journalist
Herb Score, baseball player

Thanks to all who contributed.

Almost Infamous


From Peggy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, Brother

The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it is -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past.

Bad Language

And I thought it was an American scourge.

I take strong exception to the "foremost language expert" who sympathetically described apostrophe usage as "complicated." Please. Only periods and commas are easier. If you haven't mastered the apostrophe, you should give back your high school diploma. In fact, stay in the house. And don't touch the computer. Ignorance is contagious.

Cliché should have an accent, but we'll forgive it. Their heart is in the right place.

Having worked at a PR agency, I could write my own list. A long one. At this point in time, 24/7, pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, big picture, results oriented, value added ... Temples throbbing ... Must stop ...

Crowds take advantage of the skating conditions in St James's Park
in the 'Great Frost' of 1895. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Fall Guy

The evening began unremarkably, but it didn’t stay that way for long.

My friend Craig was in town for the weekend, and we went out to dinner, then headed back to my apartment to prepare for whatever late-night activities we’d planned.

The resident manager was hovering in the service elevator like a bat, and when she saw me she swooped out, flapping her leathery wings in a state of agitation.

“Thank God you’re alright!” she gasped.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked, bewildered.

“The fire department was here!” she said. “They broke down your door because they thought you needed help.”

“Why on earth would they think that?”

“Someone called them,” she said.

It must be a prank, I concluded, unaware that I was both the victim and the perpetrator.

The key lay in a small box on my desk.

As Craig and I caught our breath, our heads still spinning, I noticed the light blinking on my answering machine. There were two messages.

I recognized the first voice immediately. It was that of a brainless woman who’d called on several occasions, looking for her sister. Each time I told her she had the wrong number, yet she always tried again after a month or two, apparently hoping for a different outcome.

This time she was clearly distraught:
Oh my God! I have the wrong number, but now I don’t know what to do! Hold on! I’ll call 911! I’ll call 911!
The other message was from an emergency operator:
Ma’am, this is the fire department. Can you hear me? Don’t worry; we’ll be right there. Do not try to move.
Why would a pair of strangers think I was a damsel in distress? By the time I heard the second message, the ice-cold truth had slapped me in the face: It was my outgoing greeting.

Not long before, I’d recorded what I thought was a funny message, a parody of a much-mocked commercial that was ubiquitous at the time. In a high, quavering voice, I mewled:
Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up. And to make matters worse, the battery in my LifeCall alert system seems to be dead. So please leave a message, and I’ll call you back … if they find me in time.
It blew my mind (and still does, all these years later) that two different people – one of them a 911 operator! – could be stupid enough to think someone who’d lost their balance would have time to record a message on the way to the floor. But you can bet I changed the greeting.

A decade and a half later, after a dread diagnosis and a fall that broke my arm, I actually did get a monitoring system. Who says irony is dead?

Thanks to Derek for the reminder.

Latter Day Hate

[T]he Mormons are particularly vicious homophobes. Gay people are rendered invisible, their personhood erased in this church. The cruelty the Mormon church inflicts on its gay members is matched only by the Mormons' centuries-long demonization and hatred of black people.
More than a thousand ice sculptures representing human silhouettes by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo slowly melt away, Florence, Italy. (Olycom SPA/Rex Features)

From Riley.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today's Top Story

What will ambitious politicos learn from this? That frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits?

From Derek.

Super Natural

From Peggy.
The UK's Princess Royal is visiting New Zealand, where she was given
a Maori welcome at the Burnham Military Camp in Christchurch.

From Riley.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's Top Story

Another gem from Kristine, who contributes more to my blog than to her own.

Face Time

Some time ago I opened a Facebook account, thinking it might be a useful resource for stalking. When that proved disappointing, I pretty much forgot about it. Periodically I’d get a message that someone wanted to “friend” me, but it was invariably a person I barely knew, if at all – a friend of a friend. How desperate they must be to pad their friend count, I thought; they obviously mine mailing lists. Finding the whole thing slightly unnerving, I ignored the requests with only faint pangs of guilt.

There were no second thoughts until a couple of months ago, when I got a request from a cousin, followed closely by one from a friend. A real friend. Up to that point, I’d assumed that Facebook and its equivalents were the province of teenagers, not middle-agers, but now I was forced to reconsider. Not only were these two in my age group, neither was socially challenged, and I respected their judgment. So I clicked “confirm” twice, sighed, and dipped a tentative toe into the stream.

I filled out my profile, posted a couple of pictures, and started trolling for friends. Not “friends,” mind you, but friends. I’m 41 years old. I have plenty of friends; I don’t need “friends.”

That lasted a couple of weeks.

Around the same time I began to tap out of real friends with Facebook accounts (many remain holdouts), I discovered that quite a few celebrities have pages. Hosanna! Would they respond to my overtures? Well, I reasoned, I’d already kicked myself back to high school; the experience wouldn’t be complete without social anxiety and the fear of rejection.

But they didn’t reject me. Tina Fey? We’re girlfriends now. Enrique Murciano? Mi amigo. Eros Ramazzotti? Paesano! (Evidently I’m still a band geek the second time around, but now I’m also a theater fag.)

The only one who’s snubbed me so far is Andy Roddick, and I was over him anyway. Are you reading this, Andy? I bet Djokovic will be my friend. Then you’ll be sorry, you dumb jock.


Cows are milked by machine at a dairy farm in Hohhot, in Inner Mongolia.
China ordered more than 5,000 inspectors to be posted at its dairy
factories as the tainted milk scandal continued. (AFP/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Today's Top Story

From Kristine, who always has a scoop for me.

If I Had a Mallet

From an obituary in yesterday's Washington Post:

"She was mostly a homemaker, known for her cooking skills and for croqueting blankets for her grandchildren."

Signs of Dissent

These were taken by Dan's old friend Peter, who lives in L.A. More here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Small World

Remember this guy? Now a video has turned up, impressing me all the more.

From Clark.

'What Is It to You?'

Keith Olbermann's "special comments" can be a little tiresome, but last night's was right on.

Thanks to Eugene for the link.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hello Kitty

Baby kneads some lovin'.

From Derek.
15th November 1936: Tennis player Miss Mary Heeley in an exercise wheel
being given a push by fellow athlete Miss Hardwick.
(Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.