Sunday, November 27, 2005

the november of novembers

In the middle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner last year in DC, the power went out, leaving a turkey half-raw and the ice cream in a perilous position. By the late afternoon light, we conferenced and decided our best option was to move our feast to our family friend's house which was far enough away, in the velvety confines of Dupont Circle, to be untouched by the outage. Once we obtained his permission, we loaded up our caravans, made it safely down there, and everything went remarkably smoothly after that.

Nothing so exciting happened this year. The family gathered in Westchester, ate, dropped in on the Met, watched Mad Hot Ballroom and, yes, All the President's Men -- remarkably, not on my suggestion. I guess it's been on everyone's mind. My older brother is usually the center of attention during such events but, busy being a 1L halfway across the country, he couldn't make it, so I had to step up from time to time and command the spotlight. Viz:
COUSIN: Hey, what happened to your brother? Something with the car?
LITTLE BROTHER: Yeah, he was leaving the gym, right? And he realized he forgot his ID. He turned around to go back to get it and he was also going to get a bottle of Gatorade, either a 12 oz or an 18 oz --
ME: He was in a car accident and he wasn't wearing his seatbelt and he ALMOST DIED.
That's a true story, by the way. My little brother didn't mind that "Gatorade" instantly became the laugh trigger for the evening because he won around $600 playing internet poker one-handed and with his eyes closed. He was going to use some of his ill-gotten gains to take all us cousins out to see Walk the Line but right before we walked out the door, an insidious rumor spread that that was "a chick flick" and before you can say "vulnerable masculinity" my cousins & my little brother had decided they had better things to do.

Usually this is a weird time of year for me. The buildup to Christmas starts for real, which means I start feeling more and more alienated. Factor in the increasing absence of sun and warmth & I really have to struggle to keep cheerful. At least after the solstice, the balance shifts -- February and March may be hellishly dreary months, but you know while you're suffering through them that they're leading up to something better. December only leads up to ... January.

While I wait for them to roll around, I try to think positive! Here's an abbreviated list of things I'm thankful for:
- Netflix
- The astonishing beauty of my neighborhood and that I get to live in it, & the person I get to live in it with
- My residence at 2756 Unicorn Lane (1982 - 2005)
- Dogs on the street
- Not so much the dogshit on the street. But the dogs
- Election years and the potential they hold
- Airplanes
- The New York Public Library system
- Whole Foods
- Snark
- WNYC, WFUV, and public radio in general
- Jon Stewart
- My health
- My laptop
- Google
- Cobblestone streets

Thursday, November 17, 2005

heroes fall

Not that Woodward was a particular hero of mine; Washington is too cynical a place to have heroes. I do like the movie of All the Presidents Men though -- not to mention the idea of it. Bravery in the face of peril! Nighttime skulking! Persistence leading to, finally, success!

So the most depressing, discouraging aspect of the recent revelations about Good Old Bob, to me, is that he didn't admit to his involvement in the case while the investigation was going on because he DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO JAIL. He was working on a book, you know ... It just wasn't a good time.

Awesome, Bob! Way to go, invoking the old Chicken Defense. You've made JUDY MILLER look noble by comparison.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Potent Quotables

Girl with Jewish Last Name: (faking child's voice) Why are there eight days of Hannukah?
Me: ... ?
GWJLN: You know! When you read that book, and the little kid has to ask: Why are there eight days of Hannukah?
Me: You mean, why is this night different from all other nights?
GWJLN: Yeah! ... Oh. Different holiday, huh?

Me to boy: I like your watch.
Boy to me: Thanks! I like your face.

I wrote a whole entry about my emotional trip home this weekend to see my beloved house on Unicorn Lane one last time -- and of course the internets ate it. Just as well, I guess. The gist of it was, in my mind's eye, it's as though the only house I've ever lived in is being whipped away into space like in the ads for Zathura. Through the crack in the door, you can see Little Ester -- angsty, skeptical, morbid, safe -- and Sheba and a thousand Shabbes dinners with my grandparents and a thousand horizontal afternoons spent watching Jack Nicholson or the Marx brothers and the hole in the wall from when my older brother hurled his toy bat and my little brother's myriad scattered computer parts and the Steinway Grand piano none of us learned to play well and the Mexican death cart that used to totally freak me out and all those books. My god, will I ever have access to so many books again? And my parents, in the kitchen, reading the newspaper, drinking coffee or tea, cursing the Republicans, immediately jumping up to offer food to anyone who came in.

Of course, when I returned to New York, having triaged my childhood memorobilia from my room and bid farewell to all the other rooms too, one by one, I was exhausted. I turned on the TV and there it was, The Wizard of Oz, my own reference come back to bite me in the ass. I turned it off again before Dorothy could say what I knew she was going to. For my own mental health. But that doesn't mean I don't know she's right.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Um, maybe God likes science

Get ready for this week's roundup of GOD versus ENLIGHTENMENT, a battle that's been raging since Adam and Eve considered a future of roaming naked in tropical paradise peacefully forever and decided to look behind Door #2.

First we have the great state of KANSAS, which as we all remember was black & white in The Wizard of Oz for the very important reason that it represents everything dull and confining about America. (Technicolor technology was new in 1939 and this gave the studio a chance to give it a splashy debut. But did the studio choose California as the best contrast to the Techniolor wonders of Oz? Did it choose Vermont? No, sir, it did not.)

Kansas's school board voted this week 6 - 4 to hang a big picture of Charles Darwin over the doorway of the capital courthouse, circled and slashed through in red, with the inscription underneath, "'ORIGIN'-AL SIN! NOT IN OUR SCHOOLS." Next to it, they hung another sign whose text reads, "SCIENCE MEANS WHATEVER WE SAY IT MEANS" and a third, "CLAY AIKEN, WILL YOU MARRY ME??"


A hop, skip and a galaxy away in Pennsylvania -- a swing state in the sense that it shifts in a positively bipolar fashion from good decisions to bad -- every member of the Dover school board that suggested teaching Kansas's preferred Intelligent Design biology curriculum got voted out.

By the way, the curriculum, a copy of which was given to me by a high-level source familiar with the material who wanted to remain anonymous, goes something like this:
"God is the answer to every question. Go ahead, try me! What's the first law of thermodynamics? GOD. What does thermodynamics mean? GOD. What's the name of Margaret Atwood's novel that incisively portrays what happens when religion mixes too prominently with government? GOD! Is literature science? Sure! It's a new world, kids: science can be anything you want, especially fiction."


It would look like we had a tie to end the week. BUT, with an addition that makes it just under the wire, Pat Robertson, America's favorite candidate for hospitalization this side of Lisa on America's Next Top Model has warned Dover, PA of its impending doom:
"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."
Wow. He's frikkin Jonah in Nineveh, isn't he? Except Nineveh was NINEVEH and Dover, PA is DOVER, PA.

Also, if voting out creationist school board members is poking God in the eye, what's allowing the continuing genocide in Darfur? Pat, your thoughts, you bloviating pious piece of monkey shit?


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hey! Hey! Over here!

I wish I had a siren. Oh well.

Judy's gone! They shipped her off to Bolivia, just like I recommended. (Maybe to one of those new top-secret Eastern European prisons I'm hearing so much about. [From Republican senators, of course.])
Sulzberger's press release in response is precious. Aw. I do believe he's going to miss his Miss Run Amok, even if she devolved into a self-righteous irresponsible harridan who dug her own grave, shot herself in the foot, and left herself with no friends at all.

Might I now reccommend, as a replacement, the always entertaining and insightful Dahlia Litwick from Slate? Or if the Times doesn't feel the need to plug a woman in a woman-shaped hole (which is so popular nowadays) how about a staff member from The Onion? If they're going to make up news, they may as well be hilarious about it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

a small but vital point

As most of us know, a cinematic version of Rent, directed, frighteningly, by Chris Columbus, will grace our theaters in a few weeks. What is less well-reported is that it has received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA. Why, you may ask, is that newsworthy? There's little onscreen nudity, sex, and violence, and the language is far less risque now than it was 10 years ago.

Bless you for your naivete. The truth is, there was a time, not so long ago, when any movie seeming to advance a homosexual agenda got an R, no matter how tame. Really! In fact, the last time I checked, this was still the case. Except Rent, which features numerous sexually-active gay couples AND one transgendered character, now merits the same rating as the latest child-friendly Harry Potter installment.

This, America, is progress! I'd say write the MPAA and thank them for their increasing openmindedness but those bastards would probably turn around and sue your grandfather for those movies you downloaded onto his computer. As far as the MPAA is concerned, it's probably better that you don't even exist. But from your bunker in your undisclosed location, whisper your thanks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


To: Sen. Reid, Minority Leader and All Around Important Congressional Guy
From: Me. Blogger.
Re: Recent strategy



A lot of people spend a lot of time talking about how the Democratic party is unfocused, quarrelsome, and stultified by its own stupid slogans. Sure, others argue, we don't march in lockstep like the Republicans; on the other hand, we're not wearing JACKBOOTS either! (Ouch!)

In the middle of the fray, Harry, there you are, unobtrusively going about your business. But some of us have been watching. Or at least I have. Here's what I've deduced and don't hesitate to tell me if I'm wrong. I can take criticism. Only from Mormons though! (Just kidding!)

1) You recommend Harriet Miers to President Bush, encouraging him to follow his worst instincts. He totally falls for it! He takes an embarrassing and painful pummeling from the right flank, most notably from his own former speechwriter.

2) While said pummeling occurs, you lead Democrats in moments of silent prayer. This wise move garners us admiration for the first time in ages.

3) After Bush testily nominates a replacement candidate, you shift some attention and, taking the enemy completely by surprise, call a "closed session" of Congress in order to talk about -- drumroll please! -- Iraq! Are Republicans steaming? They sure are; and if they're steaming buddy you know you're doing something right. They wanted to talk about Alito and you threw a wrench in their plans. Now they have to talk about this crazy, awful, mismanaged war that they and their constituents hate. Excellent!

4) Plus, you get what you wanted: the bipartisan review of the lead-up to war. This can only reflect badly on the White House. AND any article written on the subject must mention the indictment. Thus, instead of letting the White House shuffle this latest embarassment out of sight, you keep it solidly on the front burner.

You're not perfect, Harry. We disagree on a number of issues, including abortion, and why would anyone choose to live in Nevada? Still, you've managed to accomplish all of this under the radar. No one realizes you're smart enough to be so stealthy; they think Karl Rove is the only brain around here. Or maybe, hey, this is all a coincidence or an accident and I'm overreacting by attributing it to you.

Must be my mistake, Harry. Sorry about that!

Wink wink, nod nod,