Sunday, December 31, 2006

Get Ready For Form 2008R

I don’t get the whole New Year’s resolution thing. Yeah, OK, I get the intention. I used to do it, too. I made lists and I cut pictures out of magazines of how thin I wanted to look and stuck them on the refrigerator, went to aerobics classes and made plans to put away ten percent of my salary. But I don’t think I ever made one New Year’s Resolution that I didn’t break by March.

And over the last few years, it came to me: who needs the pressure? What’s the point of setting myself up for failure based on a myth that THIS is the time where I must take stock and note where I could make improvement? Why January 1? Why not the Spring Solstice or my birthday or the beginning of the school year or friggin’ Groundhog’s Day to create my list of resolutions?

Or, hey. What about this? Why not wait until you are READY to make a change? When you feel strong enough to quit smoking, lose twenty pounds, join a gym or stop running up your credit card, do it!

Because on New Year’s Eve, many of us are either drunk or besotted with carbohydrates or at least the spirit of the season, so this is not exactly the best time to make commitments of any sort.

Anyone who either got a bad haircut or a tattoo following a breakup knows what I’m talking about.

It’s all a conspiracy, anyway. Weight Watchers and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the major health clubs and the FDA and the people who make nicotine patches and gum hired a publicist and campaigned to declare January 1 the day YOU MUST IMPROVE YOUR LIFE.

“Mghffgh?” we mumble, waking up on New Year’s Day still in your party makeup and maybe wearing someone else’s clothes, in someone else’s house, your head pounding as if someone were jackhammering just outside your cerebellum. “Last night I said I was gonna do what?”

The little angel of conscience pulls the pencil from behind his ear. “I believe that was to stop drinking and slutting around.”

You swat at it and pull the covers back over your head.

And somehow this improvement never seems to happen.


You don’t know it yet, but my secret sources tell me that this cabal of good conscience (known on the sly as the CGC) have a new plan in the works. Since you have to register your dog, your marriage, your children, your car, your boat and need licenses or other governmental approvals for so many other impositions of private life, you will soon have to register your New Year’s Resolutions. Representatives from the CGC met with Bush’s finance gurus and it was determined that if people made and kept their resolutions, it would save millions and millions in health care and Medicaid costs that could be used for really, really important things like new office furnishings for incoming members of congress or the stupendously lavish rehab of Kofi Annan’s successor’s living quarters.

So this is how it’s going go down: every household will get a form by November 1, and each adult member of the household must choose a minimum of two and a maximum of five resolutions. A nominal tax will be requested (read: required) for each resolution, to be determined by a five-page worksheet based on household income, latest credit card statements, cholesterol levels, weight, BMI and peak oxygen flow of each adult in the household. If, based on submitted evidence (signed affidavits from doctors, creditors, etc.), the resolutions in question have been adequately kept by the next resolution period, a refund will be issued commensurate with the level by which the resolution in question has been successful. If the resolution commitment level was not kept, you will be fined.

You have eleven months to think about what you want to change.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pardon Me!

OK. If the media can be crass enough to air Gerald Ford’s interview criticizing Bush’s decision to go to war before they can even get the ex-prez into the ground, then clearly I won’t be going to hell for this piece. I was going to write a little bit about what I remember from Ford’s presidency, for the kiddies, but by the time I found a picture of a “WIN” button on-line, every iota of the man’s life had already hit the airwaves. So I’ll focus on the one aspect that it seems that everyone with a microphone finds the most important from his years in office – his pardoning of Richard Nixon.

So why can’t I pardon a few people? It’s the holidays, everyone’s in a good mood, and from what I’ve seen in politics, they don’t seem to really mean anything, so here’s my suggestions of who should receive a presidential pardon:

1. She goes out in public without her underwear, gets falling-down drunk, smokes cigarettes to make her voice sound older, has the lousiest taste in men and could use a few child-rearing lessons, but because she’s too stupid to know what she’s doing, I choose to pardon Britney Spears for her crimes against good taste, media space, motherhood and general ineffectiveness as a human being.

2. He has hair like a Ken doll, was a one-note Johnny in the 2004 presidential campaign by building his entire platform on the concept of “Two Americas” when everything in the cultural zeitgeist was pointing to “can’t we all just get along?” He was criticized for having no experience so he’s been spending the last three years meeting foreign dignitaries, learning where Uzbekistan is, and learning more about poverty by teaching part-time. (????) Now John Edwards is back on the trail with a bang, digging ditches in New Orleans and really not seeming to be any different. I pardon him for his over-eagerness (became there is something suspect about anyone who wants the Oval Office that badly – for Chrissakes, even Hillary wasn’t the first out of the box and would rather die than roll up her designer sleeves and step into a ditch) So for this and other reasons, I have to give him a “free spin” pardon. Because he’s so inexperienced that he’s bound to do something that will need a pardon later.

3. She can create a lavish meal for fifty and redecorate her entire house without breaking a sweat. So who wouldn’t take a little insider tip now and again? Hey, saffron and phyllo dough don’t come cheap. For taking her lumps and coming back with more cache and more money than ever before, I give this belated pardon to Martha Stewart.

4. It really wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t help it if he got typecast as Kramer and everyone else in the quartet went on to successful second acts except for him. Maybe he just needs a good therapist. Or to shave his head and get a few tattoos. So I pardon Michael Richards for his appalling outburst just so I don’t have to hear him groveling any more. Michael…get some sensitivity training and maybe a new career before you do something stupid like throw yourself into James Brown’s grave.

5. She made stock in the Gap reach a new high and the media reach a new low. But heck, what twenty-something girl hasn’t done things she’s not particularly proud of? A much overdue pardon to Monica Lewinsky because he boss, who handed out pardons like Tic Tacs when he was going out the door was too much of a cowardly shit to give one to her.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


If I were Jerry “The Beav” Mathers or Bruce Jenner, I’d be calling my publicist about now. After making an appointment with my therapist, perhaps. I’d be trying to get myself booked on one of those reality shows where they make a bunch of “C” and “D” list celebrities live in one house so they can compare rehab experiences. Or vote each other off. I forget which. All designed so that they’d be recognized in public.

This all comes after a week of feeling not so great, and when I feel not so great, nothing cheers me up like really, really stupid television. Game shows and reality shows are terrific for this. In particular, flashy ones where I don’t have to think too hard.

“Identity” fit that bill almost perfectly. I don’t know if you’ve seen this thing. It’s been running (as a test market, I guess) for the past five weeknights on NBC (the network that’s decided it can no longer afford to run comedies or dramas during their 8-9 o’clock slots so they’ve been filling them with cheaper, crappier reality shows).

It’s hosted by Penn Jillette, the speaking half of Penn and Teller. I liked their act, but perhaps Penn wanted a break, or at least needed a gig where he could actually work with people who talked back to him. (not including the audience)

If you haven’t seen Identity, the concept is thus: twelve strangers, many with rather odd walks of life or circumstances, are set up on a stage, and the contestant, provided with a visual list of these walks of life or circumstances (eg. Opera singer, child actor, alligator wrestler, etc.), must match the person to their identity. For each correct guess, the contestant gets a particular amount of money, and for each subsequent correct guess, the monetary value gets higher. The most they can win is a half a mil, which in these days of million-dollar game shows, seems like too much work for the effort (at least they don’t have to eat any Madagascar hissing cockroaches). The contestant gets three official “outs.” They get one incorrect guess, they can ask a panel of pre-selected “experts” (so far they’ve had body language experts, private investigators, etc.), or something called a “Tridentity” where they can pick one identity and three possible suspected strangers will be highlighted. I’m not sure about this, but I think that at any time Penn either thinks the contestant is stuck, or being a complete bonehead, he can ask the suspected stranger for a bit more information about themselves (usually something like their first name (and if they are a well-known “stranger” this is enough to make the audience groan), where they’re from, etc.)

It’s not too awful except for a few things that really drive me nuts. The biggest problem is too much unwarranted suspense. After a contestant locks in a guess, Penn will hold his hands out in front of his eyes and glare down the ends of his fingertips as if to make an “unsuspecting” audience member in a box disappear, and say in those staged tones “Is……that…..(yawn)….your……..identity!” After which the camera focuses full-body on the stranger in question, while he or she tries to hold a poker face for what must feel like hours, while I take a nap or make a cup of tea of something.

Then the person either ‘fesses up (sometimes in a creative way that showcases the stranger’s skill, like the fire-eater or break dancer) or tells the contestant he or she is wrong.

I also hate that the list of identities is only put up on the screen intermittently, and my memory is too short to deal with that. Wait a minute, I’m asking myself. Was that a Boy Scout Troop Leader or a Deadhead or the Michael Jackson juror?

Another thing that has nothing to do with the quality of the show is when the contestant is faced with a COMPLETELY obvious choice and they don’t get it. Like, Miss USA 2006 is standing up there looking totally gorgeous in a bikini and heels, holding that pageant pose, and the contestant misses her completely. This is the same contestant who pegged Bruce Jenner as a ventriloquist (funny, you never see his mouth move).

But the one that actually had me talking back to the TV was on the other night. The strangers take the stage, and at the beginning, they are cloaked in dim lighting and dry-ice smoke, so you don’t get to see them clearly. But I think I recognize the tall, elegant gentleman at the top far right. Is that…could it be…? Then they post the list of identities. And ‘nuff said, “Creator of Spiderman” is among them.

Stan Lee. Stan Lee is standing right up there. (Maybe he’s trying to drum up a little publicity for the next “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?”) And the female contestant, thirty-ish and cheerleader-ish, has no clue who he is. After she knocks off the first few fairly easy strangers, she just kind of shrugs her shoulders and guesses at him, because none of the other identities match up to someone of Stan’s age bracket. “’Cause, you know, Spiderman is, like, old, you know?” she says.

I take a deep breath and remind myself that just like I might not recognize Fifty Cent or Lil’ Kim (and I still can’t tell the difference sometimes between Gwen Stephani and Christine Aguilara), there are some people out there who don’t know who Stan Lee is.


Anyway…who knows. Maybe this was just a one-time deal, maybe Penn and his stagecraft got himself enough ratings to score a regular gig. But forget about trying to be a contestant. I want to be one of the strangers standing on the stage. And my secret identity will be…someone who knows who Bruce Jenner is.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Word Definitions

While I'm recovering from some kind of bug (not quite bird flu), I hope you enjoy these plays-on-words sent to me by my lovely sister-in-law. Have fun! (I especially like the definition for "flatulence" below. I'm still waiting to be picked up by one.


Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.) describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): it's, like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's, like, a serious, you know, a real bummer.
10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the apple you're eating.
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Monday, December 18, 2006

An Open Letter To Time Magazine

On being chosen “Person of the Year”

You could have knocked me over with a memory stick when I found out, on Fox News of all places, that I had been chosen as “Person of the Year” for my contributions to internet content that, according to you, are helping to move control of information to individuals and away from institutions (that means magazines like you, right?).

But really. Thanks for the honor. And I mean that. Even though when someone wins a Nobel or a Pulitzer, they always tell NPR or whoever the story of how they heard. For example, the person would say that they got a call at two in the morning from Stockholm and thought it was a big joke. And just like those prizes, a personal phone call telling me about it would have been nice. No matter what the hour. But I understand that you’re probably too busy dealing with the fallout from last year’s choices, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono, to have time for things like that.

Yeah. I can see why this year you’d go with timid, humble, yet still feisty little me, instead of the dozens of other people who make more money, get more media space, or perform selfless acts of greatness, usually in small, war-torn or famine-stricken countries. I understand that when you choose someone who is despised by half the world to put on that one, important cover in December, it probably requires a bunch of rancorous, hours-long meetings where everyone has a different opinion. And possibly, shoes are thrown. Staff members threaten to mutiny and the Board of Directors cower in fear anticipating the retributions, including loss of advertiser money and subscribers, for choosing such past winners as George W. Bush or the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Yes. I can understand why you’d pick me. The safe bet. The common choice.

But don’t think me ungrateful. I can completely sympathize with how hard the decision must have been. I can picture your panel of distinguished, worldly editors sitting around that table, looking over the list of this years’ candidates, including Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, all with their pros and cons. Any one of which would create so much controversy that half of your customer service department would quit in anticipation of fielding all those angry calls.

“Just give it to her,” the Editor-in-Chief probably said, leaning back in his conference room chair at eight o’clock one evening.

So thank you. Truly. You have no idea what this will do for my likeability quotient, not to mention my clout on Associated Content or the hits this will generate on my blog. Before this, the only attention I could get when I went out on the town sans underpants was a ticket for creating a public nuisance.

OK, then. I’m sure you’re really busy, so I’ll let you go. Just tell me when the photo shoot will be, and I’ll have hair and makeup people ready. And please, tell your readers that in lieu of flowers or gifts, to please make donations to the charities of their choice. Especially those that will bring the magic of the internet, including but not limited to porn and You Tube™, to those small, poverty-stricken countries that are starved for entertainment. Oh. And maybe some food, too.

I want to close by saying that I am so looking forward to my “Person of the Year” issue, including my certificate or trophy or whatever it is you guys give out for this.

I just hope it doesn’t get lost in the mail.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Why Al Gore Secretly Wants Global Warming

10. So he can say he invented it, like he did the Internet.

9. Won’t have to wear those stupid sweaters anymore.

8. Can work on his tan year-round.

7. Tired of nagging kids to shovel the driveway.

6. Ticked off that Obama’s book is selling better than his.

5. Property in Tennessee will become beachfront.

4. Afraid someone will find out that he failed Earth Science in 9th grade.

3. No one will be laughing at his Oscar bid then.

2.People will forget about that those little “inconvenient” exaggerations he made, like saying that people who don’t believe in global warming are like Nazi sympathizers, and that he and Tipper were the models for “Love Story,” and that he claimed to have studied at Harvard under the “first person ever in the world” to study global warming when really it was some 19th century guy named Svante Arrhenius, and….

1. Florida will become submerged. Hah. Take that, Katherine Harris.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

All I Want For Christmas...

First, a public service announcement:

After the holidays, I’m going to take a serious look at self-publishing the manuscript of “Goldberg Variations.” Except I’ve been told by several marketing-types that the title has to go. (Feh. I liked it) I’m on the fence, and can’t think of any better ideas. If you read the manuscript and have an idea for a new title, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Also anyone who's had experience with self-publishing and can recommend a house that won't rip me off or give me a problem with rights, your thoughts would also be appreciated.

Thank you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.


OK. I’ve been…well, mostly good this year. I haven’t sent nefarious instant messages to underage males, there is no cash in my freezer, and I always wear underpants in public (especially when getting out of the limousine). I’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain only in traffic and only when warranted, and I’ve used far less foul language than, say, Lewis Black. Although I’ve only been late with a handful of household payments, I pay my taxes, vote and generally am a good citizen. So I think Santa might be open to the following list of things I’d like to see under my tree come Christmas morning:

• A job writing Jeopardy! categories (my favorite: Celebrities whose names form complete sentences…eg Britney Spears, Leanne Rimes, etc.)

• Someone to vote for instead of against

• A heated driveway that will never require plowing or sanding

• Really big breasts. For about a week. Just to see what it's like.

• A lifetime supply of Lidocaine patches

• For Michael Jackson to go away. Please. And take OJ with you. And Ann Coulter.

• Term limits for members of Congress. Starting with Ted Kennedy.

• To collaborate with TC Boyle on his next novel. If he won't do it, then John Irving.

• A mink-covered exercise mat and a personal physical therapist

• A Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun

• To be able to write for “Gilmore Girls” after the new writers jump the shark

• The ability to teleport

• An invisibility cloak

• A hot tub with stairs. In my own house.

• A device that disables cell phone usage in public places. Also mutes screaming children.

• Did I mention a Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun?

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Toast To The Holidays

Many holiday seasons ago, when the lovely chocolate brown shade of my hair was not the result of a chemical formula, my younger brother and I (and sometimes my older brother) wouldn’t get home from our respective colleges until only a few days before Christmas. As we’d been too busy rushing between exams, study sessions and celebrating to buy any presents for our family members (as if there were any decent stores within walking distance of either of our campuses), we had no choice but to resort to the classic Christmas Blitz at our hometown mall. (Back before the internet, kids, we actually had to go to stores to buy gifts.)

And being part of a large blended family, holidays were a little more challenging. Usually, we’d land at Dad’s (closer to the mall), do the shopping, then wrap Mom’s gifts and go to her house for Christmas Eve Dinner (an awesome paella). Then, very late, we’d pile into someone’s car and go back to Dad’s. Gladys knew that one, everyone in their household would be asleep by the time we finished visiting, drinking our wine, having dessert and exchanging presents, and two, that we probably hadn’t wrapped the rest of our gifts. She was always nice enough to leave the wrapping paper, tape, scissors and assorted gift-adorning paraphernalia out on the table (probably so we wouldn’t wake anyone up by rummaging through the closets). And we’d take it all, with our unwrapped gifts, downstairs to my brother’s “old” bedroom, and wrap ourselves silly while watching some holiday-themed program on his small TV (could have been the Three Stooges, but my memory is hazy, and really, did it matter?).

I forget how this tradition started, and where the original bottle came from, but one year I accompanied our “wrap” session with a little Amaretto, toasting the end of another semester and the three weeks of nothing that lay before us. I don’t know about my brothers, but for me, Amaretto always meant Christmas, and time to wrap gifts and take life a little easier.

I continued the tradition well after college.

On my own for the first time, I could only afford the generic stuff. It was horrible, and tasted faintly of lighter fluid (don’t ask me how I know what lighter fluid tastes like). As soon as it dawned on me that the extra couple of bucks wouldn’t make a real difference to my life, I relegated that nasty bottle to the back of the closet, meaning to use it for, say, pancake batter or French toast or stripping furniture, and treated myself the genuine article. Husband, before he was Husband, had something to say about my little vice, but I assured him that I wasn’t going to become an alcoholic having a shot or two in my coffee while I wrapped Christmas presents.

And when we moved into our own house and I had the wherewithal for the real Amaretto and a mountain of gifts, I’d put on the Vince Guaraldi “Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack, brew a pot of high-quality decaf, add my shot and wrap the night away.

Now that alcohol and I have parted ways for the foreseeable future, I put a bit of almond extract in my coffee and tell myself it’s the real thing. I can live with that. It’s just a tradition that reminds me of that particular “snow globe” moment. As we started living farther apart and having spouses and children and jobs and other places to be, Amaretto reminds me of those frenetic but simpler times, when my brothers and I would reunite after months apart, and the time we spent together was fun, and easy, because we were young and thought that our lives would be fun and easy forever. It reminds me of the days when someone left out the wrapping paper for us and Christmas was more than just an excuse to eat cookies and exchange gifts but a time for family, and a celebration of all of us being in the same place at the same moment.

No matter where we wind up, no matter how far-flung we get, I hope there will always be a time, and a place, where we can all be together, even if it’s just for a few hours, even if the pile of presents is smaller than it used to be. I’ll still be a bit nostalgic for those old times, when we were a younger family with fewer places to go.

But I’ll still have my Amaretto. Even if it’s just almond extract in a cup of decaf.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Makes You Wonder...

Maybe I’ve seen too many Oliver Stone movies or read too many poliblogs, but the timing is just too suspicious on this one.

Bush had promised to deliver a speech to the nation by the end of the year outlining his new strategy for Iraq based on the findings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Iraq Study Group.

And yesterday, knowing that the Democrats planned to take control of spending on the war, he decides that he needs more time to formulate his response, and will not be rushed…and then suddenly, democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota has a stroke…and if he’s incapacitated, then Mike Rounds, the Republican governor of that state will appoint a Republican to replace him, flipping the control of the Senate over to the Republicans. Destroying any chance the House would have to impeach Bush (like it would ever happen, though) and more importantly, eliminating any chance the House would have to control or even cut funding for the war.

It’s just too weird that probably the only way the Repubs could have grabbed back the Senate was for one Democratic Senator in a state with a Republican Governor be unavailable for service. Of course, that same set-up could have happened in New York, but Hillary undoubtedly has a full legion of bodyguards and Schumer, now for all intents and purposes the only working Senator in New York, is probably moving too fast for anyone to do anything to him.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m cynical, maybe my medications need to be modified, but if I were, say, Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi, I’d want a full blood screening on Tim Johnson. I’d want alibis for Cheney and Karl Rove. I’d want to ask Putin if maybe he got a package deal on the polonium.

Perhaps Bush couldn’t wait until June, when Dr. Kevorkian is slated to be released from prison.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Modest Proposal

I heard on the news this morning that this particular holiday shopping system is being plagued by a more pervasive and more creative brand of retail shoplifter. Target, in addition to other brick-and-mortar businesses, is taking aggressive measures to stop or at least slow down this plague. They are using a sophisticated video surveillance system, and partnering with local police departments to catch these scofflaws in the act.

But I don’t think they’re going far enough. With a few well-placed Draconian measures, we could stop this problem in its tracks and let the video system continue to be used to catch consenting adults doing things in the dressing rooms, and let the local cops return to busting up drug gangs and giving out traffic tickets for things like blown-out license plate bulbs and talking on cell phones.

For example:

Maybe Hammurabi had it right. Forget those useless signs posted around stores announcing that shoplifters get a free ride in a police car. Those are about as effective as telling kids that drugs kill. But a few strategically-placed signs around stores warning that shoplifters will have their hands removed without anesthetic might give a potential five-finger discounter pause. Not to mention fewer fingers.

Public embarrassment. This is a colonial city, and the powers-that-be are continually announcing festivals, reenactments, et al that celebrate our rich history. And part of that history that has yet to be celebrated is the public stock as a system of punishment. Catch someone red-handed, and lock them up in one of these jobbies in the parking lot for day or so. Cream pies and rotten tomatoes will be supplied to those who care to employ them. And, for those of you who are wondering why we don’t go all the way and simply burn people at the stakes, there are far too many laws against public burning to even try to get this through the city government. Also, there is current legal precedent of public embarrassment as a form of punishment: a judge in Atlanta has sentenced people to hold humiliating signs over their heads in public areas.

Boy, their arms must be tired. But that’s all part of the rehabilitation process.

The Putin Solution. You know those security tags that supposedly contain an ink capsule, so if you try to remove them from “your” Hermes scarf you will be covered in tell-all blue? Fill those ink capsules with Polonium. Your store will never have a problem with shoplifters again.

So get into the holiday spirit and go visit a mall or two. Just don’t forget to pay for your selected items on the way out. Or believe me. You will pay.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Secret Christmas Lists Found In Congress and Senate

As the 109th Congress blows out of Washington for their extended “winter vacation” (some more extended than others), it was decried by one Democratic congressman that “quite a mess” was left behind. It was more than the unpassed legislation, the bills passed so quickly that they contained more pork than Ohio, the name plates from office doors, the desks sitting out in the corridors. My secret sources tell me that some other things were left behind in the members’ rush to get on a plane and go anywhere below the equator. For instance, several Christmas lists were found, the handwriting analyzed by my secret sources’ secret handwriting analysts. And the tentative results (we’re waiting for final corroboration from Dan Rather) were as follows:

Hillary Clinton
1. Curtains for the Oval Office that match my wardrobe
2. A new rug for the Oval Office
3. A personal GPS to track Bill; barring that, one of those leashes people put on toddlers.
4. FBI files on Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Al Gore (just in case), and for God’s sake, there has to be something on Obama. There just has to. I know it.

Barack Obama
1. A new middle name (note to self: forgive Mom – how was she to know “Hussein” would not be desirable thirty years down the line?)
2. Polish for my halo
3. Really don’t need anything else – give the rest to a worthy charity free of scandal.

Mark Foley
1. That new software they have that eliminates your instant messages.
2. A new job
3. If can’t find one, to join the priesthood

Ted Kennedy
1. One of those educational video tapes where they show you how to pronounce difficult names and enunciate clearly – note: ask Bush where he got his.
2. A rehab center at the Vineyard compound

Nancy Pelosi
1. Business cards on better stationery than Hillary’s.
2. The name of Hillary’s decorator.

Barbara Boxer
1. A class on how to think before speaking (note: ask Maxine Waters and Cynthia McKinney if they wants to attend, too)

Orrin Hatch
1. A tie that fits
2. Software that will remind me to eliminate all traces of my Donnie and Marie MP3 downloads.

John Kerry
1. A better publicist
2. One of those books on how to tell a joke
3. For Ohio to be flattened by a meteor

Chuck Schumer
1. New running shoes (as I’ll now be New York’s only senator)
2. A vial of polonium for my next tea with Hillary

Dennis Hastert
1. The book, “What Should I Do With My Life.” (note: multiple copies for Bill Frist, and Mark Foley)
2. One of those “Adopt a Highway” signs for my “Prairie Parkway.”

Maurice Hinchey
1. A gun that doesn’t set off metal detectors
2. A bumpersticker that says, “Honk if you hate Karl Rove”
3. The name of a good therapist (note: ask Howard Dean for recommendations)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bird flu...

Hope to be bloginating at you again in a few days...recovering from having my nerve endings burned off...

Take care and keep warm,
Your penguin hostess with the most-est

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Time in a bottle

As the calendar turns to the last month of the year, it makes me think about the passage of time, and how I’ve slipped in the commitment I made to myself to do more writing. When I don’t write regularly, as those near and dear to me know, I start getting cranky. All those words building up in my head. It’s not a matter of “not enough time;” I simply haven’t made the time. I’ve let my days and weeks tire me out from cookie-baking (Snickerdoodles for a neighborhood cookie-swap), on-line holiday shopping and those endless, endless appointments. I dread weeks like last week – every day, a different doctor, a different therapy. They drain me, emotionally and physically. Shoes off, shoes on, shoes off, shoes on, clothes off, bathing suit on, clothes back on. It’s overwhelming at times. (Although I did learn that while you can’t wear a lidocaine patch in the pool, you can remove it, place it carefully on its original plastic backing, then reattach it afterward.) I start to feel poked and prodded and invaded until I want to curl up into a ball with the blankets over my body. And I think, “how has my life come to this?” A whirl of exercises and ice packs and therapy?

It’s certainly not the life I’d imagined for myself. The wide-eyed, pigtailed four-year-old dressed in a plaid smock her mother made never dreamed that one day she’d be unable to twist herself into a pretzel or sit upside-down on a sofa, with her feet in the air and the ends of her braids brushing the ground.

The fourteen-year-old high school freshman, who read Shaw and Perls for fun, opening her mind wide to the possibilities of the world, never thought that one day she’d be unable to sit in her own bathtub and on a first-name basis with her pharmacist.

Having to be shot full of cortisone and then having her getting her lumbar facet nerve endings burned off is definitely not what the college sophomore wanted, even as she blithely wrote her obit for a journalism class that predicted her early demise would occur when hit by a car while jogging, then really was hit by a car while jogging. (But despite her injuries, was jogging just two weeks later)

It’s not even what the 25-year-old woman dreamed of, newly emancipated from the oppressive relationship she never thought she’d succumb to, roaming the nooks and crannies of Boston with her camera, that one day she’d look so sad in photographs.

It’s not even the life I pictured for myself two, three years ago. Well…maybe in some karmic way it was. After all, my goals were to quit my job and become a writer.

Wish I’d specified something about my health in those plans I’d made.

But regardless of how I turned out, it’s the life I have. The only life I have. I can spend it wrapped up in my sorrows (which at times, is very attractive), or I can get up and do something about it (which, at times, seems the hardest task in the world).

And sometimes I think it’s never going to change. That I’m caught in a vortex of medication and pain and exercises and doctors and I’ll never, ever escape its grip.

But then again I wasn’t a powerless, clueless five-year-old forever.

I wasn’t a starry-eyed teenager forever.

I wasn’t a flat-broke but unfettered twenty-five-year-old woman forever either.

But the only constant in the universe is change. And one day my situation will change, too.

After all, if it’s true what those t-shirts say, that “Fifty is the new thirty,” then forty-five is the new twenty-five. And I had it pretty good at twenty-five.

Even if I didn’t realize it at the time.