Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today's Top Story

From Terry.


The universe must be joking, would not dare dump such a homophobic, Creationist evangelical nutball on us, this anti-choice, God-pandering woman who's the inverse of Hillary, this woman of deep inexperience who abhors birth control and supports abstinence education and shoots exhausted wolves from helicopters and hates polar bears and actually stands for everything progressive women have resented since the first pope Swift-Boated Eve.
Mark Morford on Sarah Palin.

By the Way ...

Is this the meaning of ex parte communication? Just fascinating.


&*$#!@ Me Elmo

Guilt by implication on "Sesame Street."

Source, via Derek

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wishful Drinking

I learned so much from Carrie Fisher's show today. About the search for love, for example:

A fly is as likely to land on shit as on a pie.

And looking on the bright side:

Cry all you want. You'll pee less.

If her one-woman carnival rolls in your direction, do yourself a favor and go see it.

Thanks, Bob and Bruce!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest."

Kilgore Trout

Noteworthy Names

A while back, I circulated an article that mentioned a book of unusual names. Shortly thereafter, my friend Laurie was visiting her in-laws and spotted the very same volume: Remarkable Names of Real People. A few pages in, she knew she had to get me a copy - and so she did, to my considerable delight. The tiny gem is out of print, but you can find it easily through Amazon.

And now, the latest installment from my own collection:
Romeo Ambrosio
Rev. Cindi Love
Topsy Clinch
Sandy Wood
Sandy Banks
Corky Stone
Nettie Lacy
Hazel Knoll
Violet Hill
Daisy Woods
Daisy Frost
Willy Quest
Woodie Neiss
Dorothy Cox Rider
Burley Cocks
Hyman Golden
Hyman Gross
Merlie Fister
Joy Chapper
Puss Schutt
Bug Hall
Steele Hall
Crystal Boothe
Sterling Knight
Noble B. Judah
Orlando Hilton
Virginia Hash
Austin Martin
Homer Walkup
Bland Butler
Missy Massey
Harry Carey
Carey Birdsong Valentine
Paradise Couts
Cheston Turbyfill
Kitty Mann
Nivvy Putput
Georgette Knuckles
Carmelita Noggle
Persephone Roach
Lola Peach
Rosie White
Latina Brown
Brown Bell
Frances White Brothers
Smiley N. Pool
Wealtha Fortune

Margaret Mitchell
Leroy Brown, mailman
Mark S. Harmon
George P. Marshall
Patricia Neill
James A. Taylor
Betsy Ross
Morgan Friedman

Word of the day: aptronym, a name aptly suited to its owner; e.g.:
Mike Stone, landscape designer
James Fry, vegetable oils economist
Phyllis Bloodgood, registered nurse
Francis Vroom, school bus driver
Dave Pancake, skydiver

From Tom.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

From Caroline.

Name Game

If Sarah Palin were my mother, my name would be Engine Nighthawk Palin (until I sued for emancipation or killed myself). What would yours be?

From Colleen, a.k.a. Speck Backfire Palin.

Bad Sports

The video on this page filled me with anguish, disgust, and rage. It made me want to hunt Sarah Palin from a low-flying plane.

From Peggy.

'How Wonderfully Colorful'

"I suddenly have a vision of snowbound hillbillies flopping around on the floor like dockside salmon."

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Igljacks Go Cottaging

“I need a room with a roll-in shower,” Dan told the reservations agent.

“No problem, sir.”

When there was no mention of this on the printout, he called back and was assured that the room was thus equipped.

Arriving in Newport tired and grimy after the long drive, Dan asked the desk clerk: “This room has a roll-in shower, right?”

“Yes, sir, it does.”

And so it did – in the sense that if you’d laid my bony carcass along the edge of the standard bathtub and given me a good shove, I probably would have rolled in. But it wasn’t quite what we had in mind.

Turned out the room with the roll-in shower was occupied by another crip. (Those people are everywhere. Why don’t they stay home, as God so clearly intended when He smote them?) We were brought a bath bench for the evening, then given the coveted quarters the next day, when the other guy checked out. It was a two-bedroom suite, but we were charged the regular rate because of the screw-up. They even moved our things while we were out and about.

Having hankered to see Newport’s “cottages” for most of my life, I naturally waited till I was in a wheelchair to do so. Which was surprisingly okay, because any fin-de-siècle mansion worth its salt had an elevator. And in my quirky judgment, those are almost as much an attraction as the houses themselves.

I rode in five, four of which were over a hundred years old and three of which were charmingly ornate. Sizes ranged from small to tiny. With a requirement that passengers be accompanied, it was probably inevitable that the docent stationed at the smallest – and slowest – elevator would be a woman of bounteous proportions. She was also chatty, which made for a comical scene as I attempted to project my feeble voice past her prodigious front, which was all but smothering me.

Speaking of distractions, a note to parents: If you have young children – say, an infant prone to sudden, piercing screaming fits and a little boy who likes to swing on furniture and is physically incapable of remaining silent for more than thirty seconds – perhaps a house tour isn’t the ideal activity for them. Just a thought.

Of the many properties, five were fully accessible, which was plenty for three days and well worth the trip. Built between 1888 and 1902, the styles spanned Europe from England to Italy. France was especially popular, including salutes to Versailles’s Trianons, Grand et Petit.

Much was grand about these piles, but nothing petit. The only one that wasn’t over the top was Doris Duke’s Rough Point, recommended by Ross, a friend whose judgment in these matters is infallible. All of the houses were lavish and art filled, but the others were done to show off, while Rough Point was decorated personally by and for the storied “Miss Duke,” resulting in a much more intimate feel. She also seemed to be the only owner who spent more than two months a year in Newport.

In several cases, wheelchairs were directed to the service entrance. Some might find that offensive, but I consider it a plus. To me, those are often the most interesting parts of a mansion. When I could walk, I was usually the naughty one on house tours, trying to slip away and check out back stairs and butler’s pantries. (If you get caught, just claim you were trying to find a restroom. They might not believe you, but what can they say?) Nowadays, thankfully, a lot of house museums include kitchen areas on tours. Dumbwaiters thrill me as much as old elevators, and I got a gander at several in Newport (although one, disappointingly, was electric).

On Sunday we met Ross and his partner, Michael, for lunch at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, housed in the landmark Newport Casino. (No sign of Roddick or Djokovic, sadly.) They invited us to dinner, so that evening we made our way over foggy Narragansett Bay to the movie-set village where they’re restoring – greatly improving, really – an old house. I’d only seen it in pictures, and their efforts were even more impressive in person. I’ve said it before: If you want a place done right, call the gays.

Back in Newport, we drove past Clarendon Court several times, picturing Sunny von Bülow sprawling unconscious on the cold floor of her luxurious bathroom, but didn’t have time to locate Hammersmith Farm, site of the Kennedys’ wedding reception.

The nonarchitectural highlight was easily the Cliff Walk, which winds along the coastline between the mansions and the crashing waves. We went at sunset, and the view was inspiring. Almost as inspiring as the strapping young man who leapt out of the car in front of ours, ripped off his shirt, and plowed into the surf.

Good times.

Photos by Dan

Thanks to Ross, Michael, and Isaac for hosting us and to Ben, Brian, and Andie for keeping the monsters, making the whole thing possible.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"I've been trying for some time to develop a lifestyle
that doesn't require my presence."

Garry Trudeau

Actress Lynda Carter kneels on the ground and bears her forearm in a still from the 1970s television series "Wonder Woman." (Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Friday, September 12, 2008

On the Road

The Igljacks are heading to Newport in the morning for a few days of Gilded Age splendor. We haven't been anywhere in ages, and I'm in dire need of some fresh scenery. At this point, even the Jersey Turnpike might be something of a thrill.

'Why This?'

Jumko Jaim, a homemaker from Tokyo on her first trip to Paris, called herself shocked at the sight of the porcelainlike ceramic “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” in the center of the Venus Salon.

“This object doesn’t suit the beauty of the décor,” Ms. Jaim said. “It spoils it. There’s so much nice modern art in the world. Why this?”


That's Why They Call It Pokemon

An alert subscriber sent this picture in response to Wednesday's post. Further research revealed some context, but Japanese culture remains inscrutable to me.

For God's sake, don't tell the Republicans. This is exactly the sort of thing they had in mind when they were braying about Obama's "sex ed for kindergartners."

Thanks to Peggy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Walk This Way

Dear friends,

It struck me the other day that ALS is a bit like a video game (albeit not a very fun one): The longer you last, the greater the obstacles. I was never much good at those games, even when my hands worked, and I certainly didn’t sign up to play this one.

I have no idea why I’m still in the game so long after diagnosis, but surely my stellar support system has something to do with it. And right behind my family and friends is the ALS Association’s DC/MD/VA Chapter.

When my voice started to go, they helped me get a talking computer, and when my fingers followed suit, they tricked it out with equipment that allowed me to keep a foot in society’s doorway. They loaned me a shower chair when my handsome new bathroom was finished this year, and they’re about to send over a mechanical lift to make transfers safer.

In addition to expensive equipment, your donations finance an ever-growing range of services. A portion is also earmarked for research, which looks more promising every year. All of this is overseen by a staff whose dedication is unmatched. In fact, a number of them have become personal friends. Hence my annual appeal.

If you’d like to sponsor me for the walk, you can do so here. Support in any amount is greatly appreciated, and contributions are fully tax deductible.

If you’re free on October 12th, come join the Jackals on the Mall. We have a great time, and there’s always room for more.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Today's Top Story

The victims, both farmworkers, told deputies they were awakened by a stranger applying "Pappy's Seasoning" to one of them and striking the other with a sausage.

In Other Words

A pun-ishing rumination on bloomers, sister-boys, and more.

From Peggy.

Toot Sweet

I know I'm getting old because this morning a fart slipped out when I coughed, taking me completely by surprise.

My reaction was to hoot loudly, so I'm still hopelessly juvenile. And there you have it: the paradox of the man-child.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The End of Innocence

Don't shoot the messenger.

Engineers testing equipment before the broadcast of the Oxford
and Cambridge boat race. (Outside Broadcasts: 01/01/1928 © BBC)

From Riley.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Where are they now?

My surname is Scottish in origin, but these days it's more prevalent in New Zealand. The most common forenames paired with it are Gary, Roy, Anthony, Nicola, and Walter. I'm glad my parents went with Shaniqua.

Thanks to Riley.

Monday, September 01, 2008

"One of the indictments of civilizations is that happiness
and intelligence are so rarely found in the same person."

William Feather

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Last week's podcast of This American Life was another standout. The best line came in act four, from essayist Shalom Auslander*:

Here's the thing about people: I don't really like them. That's why I find racism so curious. There are so many reasons to dislike people - you're gonna go with color?

So I avoid the people whenever possible, try to keep my distance. It's really better for everyone.

* I love that name. Hebrew and German: Peace Outlander.

Take Care

There are no words for this. Actually, there are plenty; I just find myself at an uncharacteristic momentary loss.

This has Santorum written all over it.

From Derek.
A schoolboy from Barnfield School, Edgware, Middlesex, England,
shows off three of his pet mice to curious friends, 1939.
(William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

From Riley.