Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aint' fair, Momma!

I suppose that compared to being born in some horrible place like North Korea or Somalia instead of the United States ...

... or being diagnosed with a terminal illness when you've spent your life eating right and exercising ...

... my little whine is pathetic and I deserve to be slapped in the face with a wet fish until I cry.

But how is it that the summer working hours in my school district are M to Thu 7:30 to 5:30 with a half-hour lunch break, and I have just learned that the special gifted school in our city works from 8 to 4, M to Thu with an hour lunch break?

"Mama, Billy got more orange juice in his cup than me!"

"Shut up, you snot-nosed little cockroach, before I beat your backside! Your brother is recovering from scurvy, that's why."

[Cue sniffles and sobs.]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Do the right thing for the Iroquois, Britain!

"An American Indian lacrosse team that refuses to accept U.S. passports will not be allowed entry into England for the world championship of the sport the Iroquois helped invent, the British government said yesterday," according to the Associated Press.

The Iroquois' own passports have not yet been fulled upgraded to a new, higher-security version, the explanation goes.

The chances of these lacrosse players turning out to be secret terrorists hoping to blow up Albion seem quite remote to me.

Change your mind, Great Britain. Do the right thing. The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee)have been a nation since long before there was a United States or a Canada.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Warhol morning

I am stuck behind a Ford Focus that is stuck behind someone else that is stuck behind someone else ...

The Focus is splattered with bumper stickers that are too small to read without risking a wreck, but the vanity plate intrigues ...


I presume the intention is to honor Warhol, Andy. The artist.

That someone would go to the expense and time-consumption of acquiring a plate to celebrate Andy, sets my thoughts a-spinning. I try to glimpse the driver, a man probably a few years older than me. Probably would be very interesting to sit down and chat with in a coffee house.

We are between cities and I wonder if he is traveling to mine. But my natural impatience eventually overcomes my curiosity and I shift lanes and leave him behind.

"Whammer Jammer" by J. Geils Band is playing on the radio. Great start-of-a-summer road trip kind of song. I thrash around appropriately in my car. But sadly, I am going to work, not play.

I think about that old country song, something to the effect that every day, a man pulls up to a certain stoplight in town and must make a decision: right means home to the Wife, kids, mortgage; left leads to the open road.

In the corner of my eye I glimpse a bearded guy sitting on a box by the side of the freeway, playing a guitar. Surreal. But since I am now going 81 mph in the left lane, I have deprived myself of the chance for a closer look, I am half a mile beyond him before my brain clicks into gear. Oh well. Surely in my life I will again see a bearded guy sitting on a box by the side of a freeway playing guitar and next time I will be going slow enough to pull to a stop and have a chat.

Billy Idol is screaming "White Wedding" on the radio. Against my will and the mood of the music, I slow down. Don't care to give a traffic cop a score for the morning.

I pull into the dismal parking lot of my place of employment just as Pink Floyd begins "Us and Them." I consider sitting there and grooving to the whole song and being rather late. I shut off the music and begin another day.

I will make the right turn at the stoplight tonight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Word of the day: Ab


From the Egyptian.

The spirit of the heart. Seat of the will. After you kick the bucket, push up daisies, buy the farm, knock on the Pearly Gates, game over, your ab tells all and your afterlife is based upon its report.

So to borrow from the world of aviation, it is the "black box" of your life's journey.

Be good to your ab.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In praise of great Women -- Oriana Fallaci


One word in whose echoed sound reverbrates every horror of human history.


Philosophers ponder it. Other men covet it. Tyrants wrap their bloody fingers around it; the democratically minded try to control it by spreading it, by balancing it.

Power is like the elements of the ancients: fire, wind, water -- forces for great good, and for great evil.

The late Oriana Fallaci simply loathed it.

"I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomen," She once wrote.

Ms. Fallaci was the child of socialists. I see in Her life echoes of the late George Orwell, also a socialist early in life, who famously wrote against the horrors that it spawned.

I was too young to know of Ms. Fallaci in Her prime,during the 1970s and 1980s. But I am fascinated by this Woman who, according to the Washington Post, in Her long career as an interviewer "stripped apart the world's most powerful people."

She once confronted the Ayatollah Khomeini, no task for the faint-hearted. She also tackled Kissinger, Deng Xiaoping, even Sean Connery. The political left which cheered Her when She challenged what they spurned, was disgusted when She aimed the guns of Her intellect at their own sacred cows.

Continuing from the Post: "She [brought] to the interviews a ferocious manner that belied her diminutive, often-pigtailed appearance."

Ms. Fallaci was Italian-born, June 29, 1929 and passed away September 15, 2006. Like another Woman who I greatly admire,the late Audrey Hepburn, as a child She aided the resistance against WWII fascism. It is interesting to contemplate, though, the two very different paths those Women chose to take following that season of "bombing, terror and hunger."

Somewhere out there in the world are good and honest people who had the privilege of knowing this Woman -- and scoundrels whose pyschological clothing She ripped off in front of the world.

What an amazing Woman She was!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adventures in the Amateur's Kitchen -- enter and dine at own risk

I set my heart on making a new recipe last night, Caribbean Shrimp.

I got home at the usual hour, 6 p.m., and discovered I had no rotini pasta, as called for. I fumed. My Beloved suggested that the "pasta" entry on last week's grocery list should have been more specific, because obviously I had only bought macaroni -- our contribution to the family Fourth of July.

So out to the store we went. Saw no rotini at the Dollar Store. Went to the regular grocery. Discovered there to my annoyance (readers, please cover your eyes if ignorance offends you) that rotini pasta is the same thing as "spirals," which the dollar store had had. A fancy foreign label that added about 50 cents to the price.

Got the $#%^ pasta and headed home. 6:45 p.m. Recipe called for green pepper. Minced. Thought we had a whole green pepper. We had one lonely little fragment up in the freezer. No big deal -- Sweetie doesn't like green pepper much anyway.

Never had found the required chili paste anywhere for sale, so tried to find a recipe online at home. Browsed about three that all called for three or four ridiculously exotic ingredients. Decided that chili powder would do just fine. Sweetie reminded me that She doesn't much care for chili powder, so I sighed and halved it.

You must peel and seed the tomato before mincing it, said the recipe. Do you know how hard it is to peel a tomato? I peeled as much as I could before reaching the danger point when a person is very close to simply beating the tomato to death with his fist. Remove the seeds, said the recipe. The hell with that. Who cares if there are tomato seeds in the pasta?

The ginger root was not much easier to peel than the tomato. Somehow, I managed, without also peeling my fingers.

Now things were rolling. Mix this, boil that.

The cheap salad shrimp that we bought, eschewing the pricier normal shrimp, shrank down to the size of watermelon seeds upon cooking. Ah well, you get what you pay for.

Of course, even though we had every other spice ever dried and ground and sold by man, we were out of curry. I ransacked the fridge before remembering that I threw our supply out two months ago because it was at least a decade old. Called the in-laws. They had some. It was about a decade old. "You can have it," Mom-in-law said. "The whole jar. I hate the stuff."

At long last, dinner was ready. Circa 8 p.m.

Sweetie did not like it.

"It's too hot."

"There is nothing HOT in this recipe," I said.

"The chili powder," She said.


I will not be making this recipe again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Incident Report

I crouched upon the top of a step-ladder, screwing a hook into the wood to hang the new wind chimes at the in-laws' house.

Hard as a fist, hard as the blow from a baseball bat, something struck me on the side of the head.

My attacker was the fast-spinning wooden blade of the porch fan, which had lashed out at my cranium's crass and clueless invasion of its orbit.

So I sat there for a while that afternoon, in the muggy porch heat, holding an ice-pack to my head, musing upon my talent for clumsiness -- a lifetime of broken toes, broken ankles, sprains, gashes, burns and concussions.

I am back at my work desk now, with a decent-sized gash upon my temple, contemplating. Years back, a little Girl, God forgive Her for She knew not what She did, whispered to a friend as I passed by, that I looked a lot like Frankenstein. Today, I am a little closer to that ideal. Maybe I will have a manly scar from it all and I can blame it on a bar-room brawl. Ya shoudda seen da other guy.

And not being a big-time celebrity, this may be the only time in my life I can report, that I was assaulted by a fan.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Strange things from York

Ah, York.

Little northern English town that started as a Roman settlement, much later inspired New York in the New World.

In old York lately they dug up a bunch of old bones -- headless human skeletons -- while clearing for a housing development.

Experts think they have discovered a cemetery for Roman gladiators.

We are conditioned to think gladiator=Colliseum-in-Rome, but apparently those tough dudes ranged all over the empire to satisfy the blood lust of the citizenry. Even, apparently, to old York, as far from the Eternal City as one could get and still be in the Empire.

One of the items of forensic evidence is that something very large and carnivorous apparently chewed on one of the poor guys in his last moments of life.

To quote Michael Wysocki, an expert who studied the skeletons, for those who suggest these might have been your average daisy-push-uppers:

"It would seem highly unlikely that this individual was attacked by a tiger as he was walking home."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So goeth the year

(Above: Moon River by Jay Ouellet)
Here we are in July. With the dawning of this day, we have entered the seventh month, and passed the half-way point of the year. The summer solstice is already weeks behind us. And we are just a few months away from officially entering the second decade of the new millennium. (The experts will tell you that 2010 still belongs to the first decade).

I can remember reading "1984" in grade school, when it still referred to a future date. I can remember calculating in third grade, how old I would be when the millennium turned. Seemed so distant.

Gone are the peas and raspberries in the garden, their season of the year having ended. Silent are the spring peepers, yielding to the summer chorus of the katydids.

Time flows on and I am but a little twig, a leaf, floating upon its river into the sea.