[I wish I had a better Memorial Day post to give you, but I am on borrowed computer time here, and won't be back blogging until Tuesday]
What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky
- In memory of all those who gave their life in service to this great country -
Sometimes, too, the realization that no one is reading sets in. A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few. By Jupiter Research's estimate, only 4 percent of online users read blogs.The decidely negative tone of the article left me wondering why? - why would the NYT care enough about blogging to pay someone to write this pointless drivel? Perhaps Bill Quick figured it out:
Total number of internet users: 785,710,022. Four percent of that number: 31,428,400. Total number of NYT readers: Hard to estimate. Print circulation varies from about 1.16 million daily to 1.8 million on Sunday, website page count 1-2 million per day, total readership somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 million. Blogs as a whole are more widely read than the New York Times by a factor of seven plus. As for political blogs? Again, hard to say, just as it is hard to quantify the readership NYT's political offerings (OpEd, news, etc.) garner. But N.Z. Bear's The Truth Laid Bear: Weblog Traffic Rankings gives a total daily visitor count for the top fifty ranked political blogs of about 950,000. That certainly puts these top blogs as a whole in the NYT's daily circulation league. It has apparently also put the NYT into a a dress-rending frenzy.I'm not suggesting the NYT is afraid of bloggers; but I do think the consistently negative articles are something akin to a pre-emptive strike. bq. Indeed, if a blog is likened to a conversation between a writer and readers, bloggers like Mr. Wiggins are having conversations largely with themselves. I beg to differ. Let's use this week as an example. I tried to use posts on a variety of subjects, so one can't refute this by saying that warblogs or techblogs or X variety of blog topics are the exception to the rule. Little Green Footballs: this post had 132 comments. Atrios: this post had 222 comments. Tim Blair: this post had 43 comments. Sheila O'Malley: 55 comments on this post Bambino's Curse: a lot of comments (he doesn't make the count viewable) on this post. Electric Bugaloo: 43 comments on this post. Talking to ourselves? Hardly. What about the blogs without comments? How do we know they aren't just masturbating with words when they blog? Instapundit 110135 visits/day Gizmodo : The Gadgets Weblog 62990 visits/day Volokh Conspiracy 14038 visits/day Tom Tomorrow 13902 visits/day Well, they still might be masturbating - that's none of our business - but the point is - they are not talking to themselves. Far from it. Now, as far as the painted picture of blogger as obsessive, single-minded, anti-social, basement dwelling dweeb, I think that's all just a ruse by the New York Times to put a pathetic face on blogging. I mean, we know that the NYT would never, ever employ someone as sad and delusional as they make bloggers out to be. Right? Ok, I'll grant them one thing: If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic I'm already worrying that my ISP is cutting my service on Saturday evening, and won't be hooking up the new house until Tuesday. In fact, I feel a panic attack coming on. Good thing I'll be too busy with the move to really think too hard about it. Well, I may see if any of my neighbors are using wireles routers so I can use the laptop to steal their signal. Or I could always go to Starbucks. Or my mom's. Chug that beer. That's right, keep chugging. Oh, it goes down sooo smooth. Quick, give me another. I do have a question for the people over at the paper of record: If blogs are so damn boring and unimportant, why do you keep printing stories about them? Keep the beer flowing, barkeep.
Can't this man be stopped?: Apparently taking a break from his continuing search for the real killers, O.J. Simpson is hoping to mark the 10th anniversary of wife Nicole's savage murder June 12 - along with the fatal knifing of unlucky waiter Ron Goldman - by cashing in big-time. Star Magazine reports that Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, has been shopping his client around for paid interviews. "It will be expensive," the mag quotes Galanter. "TV rights are going for $100,000. For print rights, between $20,000 and $25,000." Nothing if not classy, Galanter adds that O.J. might even be willing to do a photo shoot at the Brentwood crime scene and at Nicole's grave site - if the price is right. "It would have to be a multimillion-type deal," Galanter says. A grave site photo would be "worth $500,000 ... Our preference is a standard interview ... but it's just money."Would it really be so bad if someone put a bounty on this guy's head? Can't we get Ashcroft to add him to some "wanted, dead or alive" list? I mean, who would miss him? Is there a soul alive who still thinks this scumbag is a good man? Oh, gosh. There I go again wishing harm or death to someone. Damn me and my vision of a world without murdering thugs. *This is a lesson: Never, ever blog before two cups of coffee have been finished.
ďAl Gore served as Vice President of this country for eight years. During that time, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole.Ē ďAl Goreís attacks on the President today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia.ĒThat's what I call a smackdown. High-fives all around, Jim.
Summer of Fear. That's what this is. No matter how much you say you do not fear them, you don't believe the hype, you don't watch the news, I am willing to bet that the drone of a crop duster flying over your house will send you running for a gas mask. I'm willing to bet that you feel it. You feel the blanket of unease that our own security agencies have covered us with. I'm waiting for the comic book ending. For the superheroes to band together and form an alliance and kick the shit out their enemies. Or at least foil their evil plans and put us all back into our safe, comfortable place, where panic doesn't spark the air, where our lives don't exist in a constant state of electricity, like we just collectively stepped on a third rail.That was when the terror alert changed nearly every day, where every morning brought another new warning, another shout to be vigilant, be alert. Hell, I couldn't be more alert if stuck toothpicks in my eyes. Two years later, I still believe in superheroes. I still believe we will win the war on terror. But you have to let us win it. You cannot stand between our troops and a holy shrine if that shrine is crawling with people plotting terror attacks. It doesn't even matter if the plans they are drawing out are against us, or Israel or the citizens of Baghdad who are just trying to find some kind of good life. Because we are all part of the same coalition, the same combined force of tribes and nations that are gunning for the bad guys. So, what to do with these headlines today? Do I cower? Do I end up the way I did in 2002, with a case of agoraphobia? Or do I trust that we will prevail? Choosing trust is much more relaxing, I'll tell you that. It's better than fearing planes and avoiding trains and dreaming of underground bunkers and rockets red glare landing at my feet. Yes, they are coming for us. Well, they are going to try their damndest. And we cannot, and should not ever think of standing in the way of those who are going to protect us from them. We know where they are. They are in Afghanistan and they are in Iraq and, brace yourself, they are right here on our soil. Those who are already here are just waiting for instructions. It is our job to cut down those who are supposed to give those instructions out. It is our job to cut the ties between here and there and that means mainly striking them over there. To cut and run from Iraq now would be to lose the war on terror. I don't think that's what you want, is it? Ridicule all you want. Choose your theories. Ignore at will. Laugh, point finger and call it all a lie. What does it take to make some people see that the war on terror is real, that our enemies are not a result of the Iraq war, but the result of a culture war. I suppose that if 3,000 dead in one day didn't convince them, nothing will. But you can bet that if a bomb ever dropped on their neighborhood, they would be the first ones crying that we didn't take the war on terror seriously enough. I hope it never comes to that. I hope we never have to say we were right about the terrorists coming for us. And if they never come, to the left it will all have been a bold lie, rather than a good job done by those fighting the terror war. I am not going to spend my summer hiding under the bed again. I am going to trust that we will get this war won, despite those who want to stand in our way. That's not to say I'm not scared because I still shake in my boots some days, especially when I think about the Olympics. But I am not as convinced of the coming Armageddon of America as I used to be. A lot has changed in the two years since the Summer of Fear. Main thing is, I figured out who the real enemy is, and it's not us. Those guys coming toward us with swords raised and torches blazing? splinter cells and offshoots make for one pretty big army of darkness coming at us. I hope that we have the strength to take them down.
E.L. Doctorow, one of the most celebrated writers in America, was nearly booed off the stage at Hofstra University Sunday when he gave a commencement address lambasting President George W. Bush and effectively calling him a liar. Booing that came mainly from the crowd in the stands became so intense that Doctorow stopped speaking at one point, showing no emotion as he stood silently and listened to the jeers. Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz intervened, and called on the audience to allow him to finish. He did, although some booing persisted.I know, Hofstra is not just made up of students from Long Island, but a good portion of the students there are home grown and those who aren't, well - four years on LI can easily wipe out whatever local tendencies you had before you got you here. Once you're embedded here, you assimilate. Just the way it is. Knowing what I know about Long Island political demographics and the make-up of the general university student in America, combined with a intimate knowledge about the mind set of the typical Long Islander, I would have to say that these students weren't so much booing Doctorow for his anti-Bush statements, but for wasting their time with his drivel. Commencement speeches are supposed to be inspiring or educational. You know - life sucks, wear sunscreen. Sure, that may inspire one to enroll for four years of graduate school rather than go on to face the suckage of after-college life, but it's inspiring. So when Doctorow hijacked Hofstra University graduation day in order to spew his biased comments about the war and the president, the graduates reacted in typical Long Island fashion. They booed. I suppose many of them could have been booing in a "I'm pro-Bush and how dare you get up on that stage and denounce him" sort of way, but my last dollar says they were just pissed the hell off. The local news last night brought up the free speech issue. Free speech? Hardly. Being invited to give an address to a crowd of graduating students doesn't give you the right to show up with the sole purpose of stating your political agenda; and while this whole thing may or may not fall under some tenet of the constitution, the point is, it's just wrong. It would have been just as wrong if Doctorow had strode up to the microphone only to give a speech about how much he hates The Sopranos or how much he loves McDonald's new adult happy meal. It's a graduation speech! Inspire! Give advice! Wear sunscreen! Hell, he could have gotten on stage wearing Spock ears and extolling the virtues of the Star Trek universe and it would have been fine as long as he said something like go forth and prosper. Well, yes. Some people were quite angry that Doctorow was dissing on the president. I know I would have been. Not even a time a place thing, there. I just happen to get pissy when people go off on anti-war tangents. Many parents and relatives of the more than 1,300 undergraduates were livid over the address, saying afterward that a college graduation was not the place for a political speech. "If this would have happened in Florida, we would have taken him out" of the stadium, said Frank Mallafre, who traveled from Miami for his granddaughter's graduation. Obviously, Frank is not a Long Islander, because if a native had that idea in his head, he would have done it. Just stand up, walk calmly to the stage and lay the smackdown on "one of the most celebrated writers" in America. Bill Schmidt, 51, of North Bellmore, shared the outrage. "To ruin my daughter's graduation with politics is pathetic," the retired New York Police Department captain said. "I think the president is doing the best he can" in the war against terrorism. Hey, I know that guy. In fact, I used to babysit for his daughter. Ouch. That will keep me on a "man do I feel old" kick for a while. Many students also called Doctorow's speech inappropriate. Peter Hulse, 24, of Manchester, England, said, "He's a bit like Michael Moore." Will. Not. Make. Fat. Joke. Of course, there were those who thought Doctorow's behavior was absolutely appropriate. "I thought this was a totally appropriate place to talk about politics because that's the world our students are entering," said sociology professor Cynthia Bogard. "I only wish their parents had provided them a better role model." Well, Cynthia, that's just a bit of an insult to your students. See, they are already in that world. They are young adults, most in their early twenties already. So unless Hofstra University has a special cocoon covering it, allowing the sun to get in, but little else, your students are steeped in politics. Is it appropriate to talk about poltics during a commecement speech? Sure, if people can talk about sunscreen or read from Dr. Suess during graduation ceremonies, politics is certainly acceptable. After all, when you want to inspire, to send them off to go forth and prosper, you want to remind them to become active, productive members of society, which sometimes means getting involved in politics, whether at the local or national level. Politics may or may not, depending on the state of the world at the time of graduation, include war, terrorism and the like. But to base your entire twenty minute address on what you perceive as the president's failed attempt to wage a war, well, you are just asking for it. I only wish their parents had provided them a better role model. Looks to me like most of the kids at the graduation did have good role models. I don't know about Cynthia, but my parents taught me that it is absolutely rude to hijack someone else's special occasion to make it your own. My parents taught me that it is rude to be so opportunistic as to start rambling off your political beliefs to a captive audience that cannot debate or respond in kind. Obviously, these parents decided that it was ok to boo a man who was ruining their children's graduation day. That's what I call being a role model. E.L. Doctorow (and I have to admit that the first time I read the story, I read it as Cory Doctorow and I thought, geee, I know he's written a lot of good stuff, but most celebrated writer in America? Oh, there are some really good links over there today) hopefully learned some valuable lessons, like what to say at his next commencement speech. Maybe something like this:
Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the futureillegal war, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists bush lied people died, whereas the rest of my advice hasno wmds no basis more reliable than my own meandering bush stole the electionexperience. I will dispense this advice now.See what happens? He gets to say whatever he wants to about Bush and the war, but by throwing in a few corny, not-written-by-Kurt Vonnegut lines everyone goes away happy. The professors can applaud the anti-war sentiments, the students can applaud the profundity of the speech and the parents can applaud the fact that they no longer have to support their kids and not one of them has to waste time getting all pissed off at the speaker. Originally, I was going to tie all this in with something I started writing last week about why I stay on Long Island, despite it being one of the most expensive places in the country to live. Something about the Long Island attitude, how I could never fit in anywhere else. I've got this Amy Fisher thing going on. We all do, in a way. No, no, I'm not saying we all have a thing for hairy-backed auto mechanics with an IQ less than that ofa muffler. What I mean is veteran Long Islanders have developed a tough exterior from having to deflect all of the jokes about accents, big hair and general suburban snobbery. Say what you want about Amy, but she was one tough chick, even when she was played by Alissa Milano. Underneath that rough exterior was just a girl who wanted to be loved. And that's us, hard shelled, but romantic. We're not Brooklyn tough, but we're not Queens wimpy, either. We're somewhere in between - soft enough to still enjoy our summer nights on the porch, waiting for the ice cream man and watching kids play, but tough enough to boo the world's most celebrated writer off the stage if necessary.
I had another airplane dream last night.
We were outside a small church, decked out in gowns and black ties. The day was gloomy, or perhaps it was the time between twilight and full sunset when the world has a thin film of darkness covering it. I wasn't sure and kept looking at my watch, trying to determine if it was day or evening. The face on my watch was empty, though. Just a blank white spot where the numbers should have been. I shrugged it off as I walked over to the limo parked at the curb. We would be headed to a party at some ridiculously priced banquet hall. Someone said there would be live chickens that we could slay ourselves. I asked the person, who uses the word "slay" anymore? The person - whom I believe was distantly related cousin - you alway say "slay" when you're talking about live chickens. Or people.
A thunder head exploded above and I hiked up the bottom of my gown, expecting a sudden deluge of rain to flood the ground. I waited. I looked towards the sky. To my complete horror, I spotted a jumbo jet not too far above us (why was I the only one not oblivious to the plane and noise it was making?). The jet was upside down and clearly in deep trouble. I waved my hands around like a court jester, doing an odd sort of hopping from one foot to the other dance, pointing at the sky. My voice would not work.
Finally, I got everyone's attention and they let out a collective gasp as we watched the jet sink towards the earth, making a sound like a thousand whistles being blown in your ear at once. We knew it would crash right near us, yet not one of us moved, we just watched with mouths hung wide open.
It made a final, shuddery descent and landed on the well-trimmed lawns on the block east of the church; the plane must have taken up about five of these lawns all together, and the homeowners came out of their houses, all at the same time in some kind of synchronized fit of anger, and they all shook their fists in the air and cursed the pilot of the plane.
I ran with the rest of the wedding guests toward the plane. The pilot was emerging from wreckage when we got there, dazed and a bit scratched up. He asked for a drink. A Harvey Wallbanger, to be precise. One of the fist-shaking neighbors ran into his home to see if he had the correct ingredients.
We waited for the plane to blow up. While everyone else ordered drinks and examined their demolished gardens, those of us in the black-tie wedding attire just waited. A fireman arrived - just one - and he opened the gas tank of the plane as if it were the gas tank on a car, just right there on the side of the machine, and he declared that while the plane was almost out of gas, the fumes were very strong and might ignite the plane, so we should think about leaving.
We stood still. I watched the neighbors stir drinks and fight over who was going to pay to fix the begonias. I watched them organize a volleyball tournament and take out their garbage. And the plane, smoldering now, sat on their lawns, with one lone fireman trying his damndest to get the passengers out.
I thought it was odd that there was no screaming coming from inside the plane. I mentioned this to my cousin, standing next to me in a tuxedo, holding a beer. Oh, they were dead before the plane came down. This shocked me so much that I started crying. I ran to the fireman and told him to forget the people inside, we just needed to get away from the plane before it finally blew. He nodded sadly, took my hand and we walked away. We walked past the crowd of wedding people that I came with. We walked past the neighbors, now playing bocci ball. We walked past the church and past the limo and I remarked to the fireman that I needed to find a computer to get this story out, or at least tell my first person account of it. He told me not to bother, that nobody would really care and the people that might have cared were going to be in no position to be reading blogs and newspapers come morning.
I felt this hatred rise into my throat. I could taste it. It was like a lump of acidy oatmeal, just rising up and down from throat to stomach. I wanted to turn back, run back to the scene of the crash and scream at those neighbors who were so indifferent to the wreckage of a filled to capacity jumbo jet on their lawns. I spit on the ground to get the tastes of acid and hate out of my mouth and my spit burned a hole in the sidewalk. I grabbed the fireman's hand. I told him we had to go back. We had to do what we could, even if the passengers were dead. We had to find all the people who were at the wedding with me and make them see that there would be other planes. He reluctantly took my hand and walked with me.
When we got back, the plane was in flames. All my wedding companions were gathered in a circle, crying. The neighbors played volleyball by the light of the fire, the flickering of the flames throwing weird shadows against the sides of their houses, like a dance of the macabre. Music played somewhere. Shadows swayed. Flames leapt. Children shouted. And I stood still, waiting for the sound of sirens or helicopters or something that would tell me that there was still some shred of normalcy somewhere.
The dream stayed at that spot for a while, as if someone had hit the pause button. I woke myself up.
Thank you for expressing your concern regarding the contest in Florida. A store manager decided to host an event for the employee's children which is not a part of Hooters National Marketing promotions, and has been cancelled. Best regards, Alexis Aleshire Marketing Hooters of America 1815 The Exchange Atlanta, GA 30339Added Stacy: That sounds like an utter load of horseshit to me, but the goal of getting the damned thing cancelled has been accomplished. Many thanks to everyone who linked to this and sent email to Hooters. GO TEAM!!! Damn straight. Thanks for taking the intiative, Stacy. Update: Interesting update from Stacy: bq. **UPDATE the seventh - Husband just arrived home and reminded me of the phone conversation he had with the Hooters employee last night (he's the one that made the call)...and the person on the phone told us there was no entry fee and to be sure to get there early to sign up. Gee, that really sounds like an "event for the employee's children" doesn't it. NOT. I've emailed the Hooters rep with this bit of info, curious to see what she/he comes back with. Verrrry interesting.
People ask me why I focus on putting the blame for my son's tragic and atrocious end on the Bush administration. They ask: "Don't you blame the five men who killed him?" I have answered that I blame them no more or less than the Bush administration, but I am wrong: I am sure, knowing my son, that somewhere during their association with him these men became aware of what an extraordinary man my son was. I take comfort that when they did the awful thing they did, they weren't quite as in to it as they might have been. I am sure that they came to admire him. I am sure that the one who wielded the knife felt Nick's breath on his hand and knew that he had a real human being there. I am sure that the others looked into my son's eyes and got at least a glimmer of what the rest of the world sees. And I am sure that these murderers, for just a brief moment, did not like what they were doing. George Bush never looked into my son's eyes. George Bush doesn't know my son, and he is the worse for it. George Bush, though a father himself, cannot feel my pain, or that of my family, or of the world that grieves for Nick, because he is a policymaker, and he doesn't have to bear the consequences of his acts. George Bush can see neither the heart of Nick nor that of the American people, let alone that of the Iraqi people his policies are killing daily.... Even more than those murderers who took my son's life, I can't stand those who sit and make policies to end lives and break the lives of the still living.... So what were we to do when we in America were attacked on September 11, that infamous day? I say we should have done then what we never did before: stop speaking to the people we labelled our enemies and start listening to them. Stop giving preconditions to our peaceful coexistence on this small planet, and start honouring and respecting every human's need to live free and autonomously, to truly respect the sovereignty of every state. To stop making up rules by which others must live and then separate rules for ourselves.I do understand why a lot of people are anti-Bush. Their belief system varies from mine and that's all well and good. Different strokes, etc. But this goes beyond reason. Like Jeff said, Mike Berg is using his son as a poltical pawn. Worse, he is using his son's death to gain sympathy for terrorists. And I am sure that these murderers, for just a brief moment, did not like what they were doing. The shouts of Allahu Akbar and the excuberant chanting tells me otherwise. So this guy thinks that in response to 9/11, we should have stopped what we were doing and gone over for a group hug with those people so we can better get to know them and find out why they want to kill us so. Root causes, my ass. You know what the root cause of all this? For 2,000 years, radical Islamists have believed that they own the right to chop off the heads of infidels. Last I checked, George W. Bush was not around 2,000 years ago. And let me tell you, Mr. Berg - if George Bush had looked into your son's eyes, it wouldn't be while he was slicing his head off. Proof is in the pudding. Even if the terrorists that killed Nick Berg found him to be a wonderful human being who supported their cause, they still killed him. Is Mike Berg ok with that? I'm never going to get tired of repeating this: They. Will. Kill. You. When they attack us again - and they will - they will kill you, too. They will not care if you belong to ANSWER or Move On. They will not care that you support them. They will not be going through the buildings or subways or whatever structure they plan to blow up and pull out the anti-war people. Make no mistake, they hate you. They will use you as pawns while they can but in the end, you'll be on the same end of their terrorism as I will. You are completely delusional if you think otherwise, just as you are delusional if you think this war of civilizations can ever be settled. People who believe that their god gives them the right to slice necks and blow up buildings will never, ever come to a peaceful settlement of any kind, at least not one that doesn't involve your conversion to Islam. Mike Berg is an opportunist who is seizing the moment of his son's death as a way to spread his leftist propaganda. How incredibly disgusting. [More from the Captain]
I'm having a Bad Hair Day. I'm not a vain person, by any means. However, Bad Hair is about more than just walking around looking like a blind person constructed a wig for you. No, Bad Hair encompasses the entire body, soul and mind of your being. It weighs you down, it makes you grumpy, it takes that last shred of human decency you had and shoves it over the cliff of dignity so you are left with an attitude that would maim the most hardened terrorists with just a glare from your frosty, evil eyes. Bad Hair is not a bad coif. It's not a brush or comb away from sanity. It's miles and miles away from any sane place in the world. Bad Hair combines every aspect of your body, mind and soul, taking you on a strange journey from your mutterance of death wishes upon every person in the world to the sharpening of your fingernails so you can better gouge out the eyes of your co-workers. So let's go, Meryl and Andrea (ed note: this was written on a day when Meryl and Andrea wanted to throw down). I'm waiting. As soon as someone nominates an entity, human or otherwise, who is deserving of our wrath, I am there.And then there was something about taking my bad hair mood and working with it, channeling that anger to do...something. I am Bad Hair Girl. Superhero to the sufferers of split ends, savior to the follicly challenged, avenger of the too-much-conditioner victims. Here I come to save the Bad Hair Day. With blowdryer and hot oil treatment packed in my bag to take care of that hair, and my trusty spork-of-death and fists-of-rage ready to take care of your emotional outlet needs. Yea. So if anyone needs any sporking done today, I'm your gal. And until I figure out a way to dissipate this hair-rage, whatever long winded essay I had in mind for this morning will have to wait. I wonder if their is such thing as a hair-rage defense in court?
Families of Sept. 11 victims applauded the tough questioning and shook their heads sadly as the panel enumerated a litany of communication breakdowns between the departments. Family members sporadically mocked and booed Von Essen, Kerik and Richard Sheirer, former Office of Emergency Management commissioner, and they wept earlier in the day as they watched videotape of the buildings collapsing. As Von Essen testified, Sally Regenhard - who lost her firefighter son - held up a piece of paper reading: "LIES."Mocked and booed? The fire department alone lost over 300 members that day. They did their best, I don't doubt that at all. They went into those buildings when everyone was running out so they could save lives. What do these people want? What despicable behavior. Absolutely horrifying. I can rattle off an extensive list of family members that I know personally would never say anything like that. What a terrible way to remember those who were killed trying to save others. I understand that grief makes people behave in startling ways, but I just cannot understand mocking and booing at these hearings. The purpose of today's hearing (and tomorrow's) was meant to find out how to better respond to future emergencies of this nature. But the people who testified were subject to scrutiny about their knowledge of terrorism prior to the attacks, asked whether they had hear of bin Laden or not. The former director of the World Trade Center, Alan Reiss, was asked by Bob Kerrey if he's angry that "things might have been different had they (FBI) trusted you enough" to deliver important intelligence. Reiss said he was not angry at the FBI, but rather at "19 people in an airplane," referring to the hijackers. Right answer. Unfortunately, the people on this "bipartisan" committee didn't think so. This whole commission sickens me. Nobody wants to know answers. Nobody cares about anything but laying the blame on someone besides the people who planned and executed the attacks. Why? Why this strong need to lay blame at the feet of someone else? Shouldn't we be trying to learn from this, to make our future safer should any terrorists attempt a feat like that again? Nobody is learning anything by mocking, booing and throwing condescending, derisive questions at the officials testifying. You would think from the way these people are behaving that the Port Authority, police and fire departments planned the attacks themselves. I'm sure you can throw some comments down and make the case for needing to know who knew what and when they knew it, but I just cannot get past the disrespect shown to the dead rescue workers.
I think the whole world's gone mad.
Uh-Uh. It's always been like this. You probably just don't get out enough.
Sexton and Death in Neil Gaiman's Death: High Cost of Living*]
Most of us go through life seeing the world only through our own eyes. This is what I see so this must be the way it is. Your only view of the world is your own interpretation of events and surroundings.
Sexton is one lucky guy. Sure, he's a despondent, black-souled, angst ridden teenager, just one crappy lyric short of being Kurt Cobain. But he gets the delicious treat of meeting Death, the perkiest otherwordly being this side of Katie Couric.
Death - spending her one day a year among the mortals - saves Sexton from a rather dubious exit from life and they make their way together through the city, going off on surreal adventures and playing out a modern, mystical version of It's a Wonderful Life.
So Sexton gets to see life through Death's eyes and it turns out that life is pretty magical. Pure irony there, being shown the wonders of life by Death herself, eh?
Imagine if you had a guide; someone who would spend a day walking through cities with you, showing you all the things you didn't know where there. It's not enough to take someone else's eyes and watch what they see, you have to have the mind behind those eyes as well.
Say there are two people laying on the grass, staring up at a cloud. One person sees a fish, another a castle in the same cloud. They can describe what they see so the other person recognizes it as well - see, there's the fish's eye, and the fin....oh, yes! I see it! - but the other person can't see what's behind the vision. Sure, it's just a fish, but in the other person's mind, the fish has already been given a name (Frida) and she's swimming towards something (sunlight) but the evil dark lord (the cloud behind it) is going to snatch up Frida and eat her for lunch before she can get anywhere near that sunlight.
You keep those things to yourself, mostly. Your friend who is laying on the grass with you won't get the real feeling of the story. He won't know why you chose the name Frida or why Frida will never make it to the sun and he certainly won't know that you will proably spend the rest of the day imaging scenarios between Frida and the dark lord.
Sexton, depressed, morose and suicidal as he is, is quite a lucky guy. He gets to see life through someone else's mind. He gets to experience the magic that Death experiences. And by doing that, he is able to see the world outside of his narrow view.
The problem is not that Sexton didn't get out enough; it's that he didn't get out of his own mind enough. Yes, the world has always been mad. It's always been crazy.
Perhaps we can say we do have these guides and they are books and music and all kinds of mass media that let us see into the minds of others, let us travel along their paths and experience their unique experiences.
Yes and no. It is not the same as actually running through the city with Death looking for an old woman's lost heart. Our guided tours are vicarious.
I assume that when Sexton realized he was hanging out with Death he had to figure they were perfectly matched companions. After all here he was, trying to kill himself. And there she was, Death personified.
Turns out they each had a little more life in them than Sexton realized.
Which all begs a question. Do we really want to see the world through the minds of others? It might be a very uncomfortable thing, to take a day's journey with someone quite unlike you. It might even be more uncomfortable to see the world through the mind of someone who thinks exactly like you do. And if we are our own guides, how many of us are really comfortable with that?
When I was a child, I had all kinds of daydreams where I would hang out with magical people and live within their magical lives. I'm a bit more grounded in reality now, but not much. I believe the one stark difference between then and now is I no longer wish to see the world laid bare as it really is. I thought, once upon a time, that it would be infinitely cool to have a magical companion who could show me everything that lies beneath the facade, every bit of myth and lore and fantasy that is hidden by the harsh realities of the world. I just knew that underneath all the dirt and grime and everday boringness of life, there were things happening that only those who possessed a certain magic could see. Things happening right underneath our feet, right in front of our eyes, but we are too wrapped up in the ordinary to see the extraordinary.
The fear is that mixed in with the angels and faeries and exciting, noble creatures of some other realm (where everyone eats chunks of cheese and hunks of bread and golden, crunchy apples, because that is what every hero in every fantasy book eats), there are creatures like devils and ogres and perhaps even grues, waiting to devour you.
I had a dream once, when I was about twelve, that I was being led through a dark passageway by a lighted, winged fairy. Along the walls of the passageway were drawings that would come to life as the fairy's light landed on them. At first, the passage was filled with the sound of my giddy laughter, as I watched all kinds of funny, mystical creatures take wing and fly around me. But as we rounded a corner, the light played upon a creature so hideous that the site of its face knocked the wind out of me. I fell to the ground and as I did so, I caught site of the creature. He was staring at me through hideous eyes. Now that you have seen me, I will never let you forget me, is what he said. And I didn't forget him, which is obvious as I repeat this dream to you now.
And that is my fear. That taking a ride through life through someone else's vision would reveal hideous ogres that should have been left unseen.
I suppose that one can't get to see the knights and good witches without seeing the trolls as well. What I would give to run through the city with Death as my companion, living Death's adventures. What I would give to be Sexton, to have someone shake me and say, look at all the things you didn't know existed.
Still, would I do that if a fleeting glance in a glass building revealed myself to be a monster?
*The most brilliant piece of work Neil Gaiman has ever written.
Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group (search) and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective." They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year.Failed to account for. Do you get it now? Saddam lied. Imagine that, he was lying on his weapons declarations. Does that matter to you at all? If he lied about the sarin and mustard, does the thought even enter your mind that he may have lied about everything else? What are the excuses? What is your spin going to be? How will you twist and turn this so that the mustard and gas mean nothing, and his lying on the declaration mean nothing. He lied. He said he did not have any weapons and he did. What do you make of that? Anything? Or should I keep walking towards the ever moving goalposts?
I challenge anyone who claims this was not a WMD to rent a movie theater, gather up their family and friends and neighbors and everyone who means anything to them, ask everyone to take a seat, and set the thing off in the middle of the room. (Make the movie Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, just for S&G.) Anyone who makes it out alive from that theater is more than welcome to bitch that it isn't a chemical WMD. You'll be able to count those survivors on the fingers of the missing hands of prisoners Saddam had amputated and mutilated for writing against his regime.Well, let's see what some of the left bloggers have to say about this event. Whoops. Nevermind. Guess they haven't heard about it yet. Or they are just ignoring it.
SEVERAL hundred Islamic students threw rocks at the British embassy in Tehran and tried to storm the building in a protest today over the US-led occupation of Iraq, but were turned back by riot police, an AFP correspondent said. "Death to America, death to Britain and death to Israel," chanted the protesters, called together by volunteer hardline militias, and also burned flags of the three countries. "We will protest here every day as long as the prisoners in Abu Ghraib are not freed," read a sign held up by the crowd, which also denounced clashes between US forces and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.If they just came along and protested the coalition occupation in Iraq, that would be fine. But once they drag Israel into it, all credibility of their cause is gone. They claim they are protesting about Abu Ghraib and the war in Iraq, but last I checked, Israel had nothing to do with any of that. Abu Ghraib has become a cloak that Islamic protesters are wearing in order to get their Jew hating/America hating jollies. As far as freeing the prisoners in Aba Ghraib - sure, free the people who were held but committed no crimes or have no ties to terrorist organiziations or are not part of any violent insurgent group. However, if these people think that the U.S. should free all prisoners based on the torture that went on in that prison, well, that's just silly. Imagine if every time a prison scandal broke in the U.S., they had to let all the prisoners of that jail free? These militants or whatever you want to call them are just looking for excuses to throw rocks and call for jihad. If I were in charge, I'd be saying here's your jihad right back at ya. Get your causes straight, people. Are you anti-war or anti-Israel? Because those two things are two separate causes and to throw them all together (ala all the Free Palestine signs at anti-war gatherings) only tells me that your underlying cause has less to do with the occupation of Iraq and more to do with Zionism and your false belief that terrorists are really just nice, sweet oppressed people.
First, the photographs. They are of actual live castrations of Kurds. Now, the video tapes: Two beheadings, during one of which "Happy Birthday, Saddam" is being sung in Arabic. Fingers being cut off one by one from a hand tied to a board. People being thrown off four-story buildings, one forced to wear a Superman costume.Read Roger Simon. Right now.
Itís a remarkable thing, what weíve done together over the past two days. It shows a lot about the goodness in people, and the number of bright stories that surround us that, unfortunately, are so often drowned out by the evil we see in the world. But this was a great response: to strengthen the good. So great, in fact, that we want to celebrate what weíve done. Tonight Michele and I are hosting an online ďCelebrate The GoodĒ party in the Command Post Chat Room! Weíll open the chat room at 11:00 PM EDT, and everyone who has given (and everyone who didnít) are invited to join us to talk about the Toms, the past two days, and what else weíve seen thatís good today. Then at Midnight, Iíll announce the final total, and weíll pop the virtual champagne. Iíll also call Susan and see if sheíll join us to share her thoughts and the thoughts of the kids. It may just be the three of us, but thatís OK Ö the real fun was in the doing. Between now and then, donít let up. There are still some 4 billion people who know nothing about this effort, so get out the word, and help us blow away the goal. Thanks for helping to strengthen the good Ö letís help send these kids to collegeI'll be there, Alan will be there and we hope you will all be there. Read more at Command Post for some great words by Alan, an email from Susan Tom (he also had a wonderful phone conversation with her) and ways that you can help. Strengthen the good. Now, more than ever, this is what we need to do. And thank you for all you have done already. Update: Thanks, Oliver.
My sister's father-in-law died this week. That's whose wake I went to tonight.
Rob's dad was a Vietnam vet. He spent the last year or so of his life in and out of the Vet's hospital, battling cancer. He took a turn for the worse earlier in the week and they started him on a morphine drip. Which means, if you've ever been in this situation with a loved one, that it's time to say good-bye. Rob's dad died that night.
At first, my sister wasn't sure when the funeral would be because the hospital couldn't find his honorable discharge papers and you have to have those papers to be buried in a national cemetery. Imagine having to deal with the death of your father and then, on top of that, having to worry that you wouldn't be able to bury the guy right away because of some papers? My sister made the point that you can only get into a veteran's hospital if you were honorably discharged, so obviously Rob's father had the paper at some point, so that proves he had the discharge. Well, no. So the funeral home called Washington and Washington said, geeez, just bury the guy already. So all was clear.
So, the wake. The local chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America were there. They were decked out in their combat fatigues and they lined up by the casket while the person I presume was the chapter leader said a few words about Rob's dad. Then they did a very synchronized, touching tribute, saluting the coffin two at time, turning on their heels, greeting Rob and my sister.
I was really humbled watching this. I am awed by veterans of any war, but especially Vietnam veterans. Perhaps this is because the Vietnam war took up a good chunk of my childhood and I remember so much about it. Mostly, I remember how the veterans were treated when they got home. They fought an unpopular war and came home as unpopular vets. After all they went through, I think coming home to that must have been worse.
I didn't know Rob's father that well. In the sixteen or so years I've know Rob, I think I met his dad twice, and once was at my sister's wedding last June. But Rob loved his dad and I love my brother-in-law, so....well, that's how family ties go, I guess.
On the way home from the wake I thought about the Billy Joel song, Goodnight, Saigon. I'm sure some people think it's too sappy, too overwrought but, like the Vietnam War itself, it haunts me. I've seen Joel do this song live several times. From the helicopter sounds in the beginning to the chorus of "we will all go down together" - I don't know how you can't have tears in your eyes and a bit of pain in your heart when you hear that.
I can't begin to imagine what it's like being in the middle of a war, your life on the line every single moment. I have incredible respect for the people who put themselves there.
This one is for Rob's dad and all the Vietnam vets.
We met as soul mates on Parris Island
We left as inmates from an asylum
And we were sharp, as sharp as knives
And we were so gung ho to lay down our lives
We came in spastic like tameless horses
We left in plastic as numbered corpses
And we learned fast to travel light
Our arms were heavy but our bellies were tight
We had no home front, we had no soft soap
They sent us Playboy, they gave us Bob Hope
We dug in deep and shot on sight
And prayed to Jesus Christ with all our might
We had no cameras to shoot the landscape
We passed the hash pipe and played our Doors tapes
And it was dark, so dark at night
And we held on to each other
Like brother to brother
We promised our mothers we'd write
And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Yes we would all go down together
Remember Charlie, remember Baker
They left their childhood on every acre
And who was wrong? And who was right?
It didn't matter in the thick of the fight
We held the day in the palm of our hand
They ruled the night, and the night
Seemed to last as long as six weeks...
...On Parris Island
We held the coastline, they held the highlands
And they were sharp, as sharp as knives
They heard the hum of our motors
They counted the rotors
And waited for us to arrive
And we would all go down together
We said we'd all go down together
Yes we would all go down together
CAIRO, Egypt - A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed the beheading of an American civilian in Iraq, and said the execution was carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group to avenge the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit ó similar to a prisoner's uniform ó who identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. contractor whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday. "My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael, my mother's name is Susan," the man said on the video. "I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah. I live in ... Philadelphia." After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ó "God is great." They then held the head out before the camera.This is what I was talking about last week when I said that these people would use the prison abuse as an excuse for murder of Americans. It's an excuse for them to act like the animals they are. This is the man who is supposedly behind the beheading. This is who we are at war with. Barbaric animals. We are not at war with each other. We are not at war with our own military. We are not at war with Rumsfeld and Bush or Kerry or Kennedy. We keep forgetting this. Self included. Let's remind ourselves. The factions of radical Muslim are no longer separate entities. Al Sadr, al Qaeda, all these people are just one big army out to get us. Oh, they wanted to get us all along, no doubt about that. But the amount of time and devotion given to the abuse scandal has renewed their energy and made them feel more powerful and righteous. This is what separates our soldiers from theirs. We may have a few rotten men and women among our own, but the ranks of al Qaeda and the ranks of the martyr brigade are made only of the worst kind of human being, from top to bottom. There are no good terrorists. I wonder if the people who thought that making sure al Jazeera knows how much the left hates our administration still think it's a good idea? Today it's Nick Berg. Who knows who it will be tomorrow. We have taken our eyes off of the prizes - peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and the eradication of Mid East terror networks. I don't think we can win this war if we keep having to separate wars at home. That scares the crap out of me. I look at this picture of Nick Berg, moments away from being slaughtered and the only phrase I can come up with is neither eloquent nor print-worthy.: We're fucked. Yea, I'm all over the place today, I know. I got hate mail from the left and hate mail from the right and more than a few people have accused me of pandering to each side. Whatever. I'm terrified for the future of the country. I fear for all of us. Update: Someone explain to me what the hell is wrong with these people? This isn't Bush's fault. This has nothing at all to do with prison abuse, either. They are just using that as an excuse. In case anyone has forgotten, al Qaeda hated us before this damn war started. And they are starting up conspiracies that it was a CIA hit. Jesuschristontoast. People are just fucking insane.
My defining moment as a mother came in 1994, when DJ was 18 months old. I was standing in the cold, bare hallway of a hospital, listening to my child wail and scream from behind a closed door. He was getting a spinal tap and I swear that the needle they were using was larger than he was. They wouldn't let me in the room. It was 1am and I stood in the hallway, pacing and crying and listening. Suddenly the crying stopped. I panicked, thinking they had done something terrible to my child. I ran down the hallway and looked in the tiny window on the door. A nurse was holding DJ, soothing him, rocking him and singing to him. He was cradled in her arms, wearing nothing but a diaper and a scowl. As she rocked him, the scowl turned to a half grin and he fell asleep, his face pressed against her chest.
It was then I realized a number of things.
That I could not always make it all better. Sometimes, someone else besides mommy would be there for my kids, wiping their spills and putting band-aids on their knees.
That this would not be the last time that I felt that sense of helplessness with one of my children. Motherhood is rife with helplessness. From infancy to adulthood, there are moments where you can only stand by as your children combat broken hearts, broken dreams and failed attempts. And all you can do is hug them and listen to them and know in your aching heart that they are learning how to cope.
That you feel every single things your kids feel. When they are getting a shot, you feel that pain in your arm. When they fall off their bike, you feel their scrapes. Your heart sinks after every missed free throw and strike out, after every break up and denied college application.
That you can only protect them so much. You can keep them from crossing busy streets and make them wear helmets and seatbelts. You can get them immunizations and make sure they wear their hat when it's cold out. You can protect them physically, but you cannot put a helmet or a seat belt on their hearts and souls. You can only hold their hand and offer them worn out cliches about time healing old wounds.
That no matter what, no matter what trouble they cause you, what backtalk they give you, that you will love them fiercely and unconditionally and forever. That you will still walk into their bedroom at 1am just to make sure they are breathing, even when they are in their teens. And you will look at their faces and listen to their soft dreaming sighs and your heart will fill with smiles.
That there will be times, many times, when you hate being a mother. When you can't make it all better and when there is too much whining and not enough cooperation and lost homework and messy rooms, and you run into your room and slam the door and wish you could do it all over again. And then you realize. If you could do it all over again, you would be doing this very thing
|Doctor Unheimlich has diagnosed me with|
A small victory's Syndrome
|Symptoms:||mildly high blood pressure, occasional dilation of pupils, purple skin, swearing|
|Cure:||infect someone else|
Turns out that people are actually interested in how my salad was.
I don't venture to Burger King too often. No, I'm not a fast food snob, I just prefer the myriad of other drive-throughs along Hempstead Turnpike to Burger King's rubbery meat and cardboard fries. However, last night BK was participating in a fundraiser for my son's school, so off we went. I would suffer so that the fifth grade can have their class picnic.
Have you noticed the proliferation of salads among fast food places these days? It's like they all got together in a show of unity to figure out ways to combat the Atkins diet. Lettuce! Tomatoes! One for all and all for one! And then the CEOs went their separate ways and ordered their product and development teams to come up with a better salad than their competitors.
So McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and whatever other franchises are floating around out there all came out with tasty, fresh and exciting salads at the same time. Not Your Mother's Salad! Taste the mandarin oranges, the cranberries and sesame seeds and apples! It's a fruit! It's a salad! It's a dessert topping!
Anyhow. I went for the salad at BK last night even though, in my heightened state of starvation, those Angus burgers looked tasty (turns out, according to my husband, that they - surprise! - taste like rubber).
I had a bad feeling about ordering the salad, but that had more to do with the cashier's reluctance to speak or understand English than with the food itself. Once we got it clear that I wanted the Fire Grilled Salad ® and I wasn't trying to tell her that her hat was on fire, and once I got past the fact that the odor wafting from her armpits was what one would imagine Michael Moore might smell like if he had just chased the ice cream man for ten blocks on the hottest day of the year, we proceeded.
You get a choice with the Fire Grilled Salad ®; chicken or shrimp. I have this thing against ordering anything that comes from the sea in a fast food place, but I was feeling daring so I stared the cashier right in the eyes, slapped my palm on the counter and whispered in a low, John Wayne-as-gunslinger voice, Shrimp. I'll try the shrimp.
We get our food and move over to the nearest table that could accommodate all of us, which turned out to be the table right under the air conditioner vent. This has nothing to do with the salad, but everything to do with creating the proper dining atmosphere. Granted, you're not going to get a quality dining experience when there are kids in the partly padded cell to the left of you throwing brightly colored balls at the plastic window in an effort to interrupt your conversation and ruin your dinner all at once. But let me tell you, it takes only one time for an adult to press their face against the window and mouth the words "I will eat you and your little sister for dinner if you don't stop throwing those balls right now" for a kid to really get it. The balls stopped coming at us and we made the attempt to get comfortable in the frigid air, though I had to keep putting my arms across my chest because apparently the town workers that were standing on line thought they could determine the temperature in the room by staring at my boobs.
So, the salad.
We didnít get off to a good start. I could see as soon as I opened the plastic bowl that there was mostly Iceberg lettuce packed in there. Caesar = romaine. Caesar does not equal Iceberg. The sooner all restaurants figure this out, the better off we will all be. Upon further examination of the bowl, I saw that there was more than a handful of Romaine, and the Iceberg was mostly of the chunky variety (I hate wilty lettuce leaves), so I decided to suffer in silence.
Mixed in with the lettuce were a few cherry tomatoes, a fistful of shredded carrot and a couple of cucumber slices. I examined each vegetable carefully, noting the texture and quality of each. The tomatoes were the right consistency of hard, the carrots were the correct shade of orange and the cucumbers did not have the feel of hardened jello. Good start! However, the topping that pushed the salad over the "I'm going to dread this" line to "this just might be good" line was the Parmesan cheese. I expected a few sprinkles of some no-frills Parmesan that smelled like a cow's butt, but was instead pleasantly surprised with actual chunky shavings of real, doesn't-smell-like-cow's-ass cheese. The lettuce/topping portion of the salad judging over, I thought we just might be onto something more than mediocre here.
Next up was the shrimp. At Burger King, they don't just toss a bunch of shrimp onto your salad. No, it comes separately. You know those bags you get from a Chinese restaurant when you order beef sticks (what? you never ordered beef sticks before?), the kind with the foil on the inside? Yes, a bag-o-shrimp. Said shrimp were swimming in some kind of murky brown mixture that upon first glance looked like sludge, but ended up having a much lighter appearance than first thought once the shrimp were removed from their keep-it-warm container. Now came the important part: the smell test.
I don't like my shrimp to smell too...shrimpy. Or fishy. There is no bigger food turnoff than trying to eat something that smells like Christina Agueleria's crotch. Not that I've smelled it. I just heard. From Fred Durst.
I decided to use my assistant for this one. I picked one of the shrimp up with my forefingers and held it to my daughter's nose. She recoiled immediately. Ewww, I'm a vegetarian, get that shrimp out of here. Gross. Ewww! Gawd, mom, you're so rude! Relax, I told her. I don't want you to eat the thing, I just want you to smell it. Does it smell....dead? She put her nose right next to the little creature, took a whiff, pronounced it ok smelling and then I gave her a little slap on the back of her head so that her head sprang forward and the shrimp ended up in her nose. No, not really. But I thought about it.
With the shrimp pronounced good-smelling by a certified vegetarian, we could move forward. I shook the rest of the shrimp out of the bag and they poured out like a rain shower of baby crustaceans right into my salad bowl. My sister broke out into a chorus of "It's Raining Shrimp" and my daughter crawled under the table.
I have to say, I was surprised at the amount of shrimp that came out of that bag. I expected seven or eight at the most, including the one up Natalie's nose, but were twenty-two, that's right 22 shrimp swimming in that pouch. I still don't know what the glaze/sauce was that they were covered in, but that doesn't matter because it tasted good.
Now, for the last moment of preparation. The dressing. Sweet Onion Vinaigrette, as it were. Ok, so points off for no actual Caesar dressing, but in a way I didn't mind because you just can't get a good Caesar dressing anywhere but a true Long Island Greek diner. As it turns out, they did have a Caesar dressing but, for some unknown reason, Miss I Smell Like Michael Moore decided I would prefer onions.
I opened the dressing packet with my teeth, because there really is no other way to open it properly and squeezed every last drop over the salad, wondering how this onion goop was going to taste when mixed with the brown, murky goop that the shrimp came in.
Croutons. You cannot have a Caesar salad without croutons! I searched the mess of BK food and foodstuffs on our table but alas, there were no croutons. I sent my daughter to the counter to ask Michael Moore for croutons. She reported back that they did not have any. I was incredulous. Many style points taken off. Many.
All the ingredients secured in one place, I put the cover back on the salad, made sure it was properly secured, grabbed the bowl in a frisbee grip and tossed it to my sister across the table. She threw it back. Don't ever think those high school days spent playing Frisbee instead of studying Trig won't come in handy, because they will. As I just showed you.
My salad was now tossed. Go ahead, I'll wait while you make your juvenile sexual innuendos. Done? Good, because they were lame. Surely you can do better than that.
I took one last glance at my wallet to make sure my insurance card was there. Then, in a style reminiscent of Babe Ruth, I slowly raised my arm and pointed to the hospital across the street. I uncovered the salad, grabbed a plastic fork, and dug in.
It was a caesar salad and it was good. Very good. At times, while I was shoveling forkfulls of shrimp, tomato and lettuce in my mouth, I would feel somewhat cheapened that I was enjoying a fast food salad so much, but then I would stab a cucumber, wipe it in the dressing that spilled onto the table, stuff it in my mouth and proclaim I love Burger King salad and I don't care who knows it!
In fact, I loved it so much that I decided to take one home for my husband, just in case he didn't approve of his New! Fresh! Angus Burger! Which he didn't. And damn if when I got home and watched with envious eyes as Justin unpacked his salad that there was not one, but two packages of croutons in the bag. Only, they weren't called croutons, but Parmesan toast. Personally, I would have called them Parkman Toast Chips, but that's just me. So I stole a bag from my husband's stash and ate them just on principle.
Overall my BK salad experience was a pleasurable one, if you are judging on taste alone. On the service end, they fail miserably. I mean, I'm not expecting white glove service, but I do expect that the people taking my order will be able to converse with me and won't smell like dead people.
The atmosphere gets an ok rating. Though my children have long passed the age of jumping into ball pits, and even though I find children who like to bang on windows in an effort to disturb me to be annoying little pissants, the presence of those play areas help me learn to appreciate that I no longer have to chase my kids through human-sized hamster tunnels when it's time to go home. I could have done without the sub zero temps, though.
Final say? Let Burger King toss your salad.
Not when it comes to all things Mets/Yankees.
The truth about why Rob loves Mr. Met.
You really don't want to be startin' something with me, dude.
How 'bout a new meme? 1. Find the nearest solid surface to you. 2. Bang head repeatedly on or against that surface. 3. Which Disney character do you think you are, now?1. Desk. 2. Ok (four times was enough). 3. Michael Moore. Thanks, FAD!
This post is part of what was the Spirit of America Ask a Blogger challenge, a challenge in which I am woefully behind. All the previous questions are in one happy place.
Disclaimer: This is meant as no offense to two of my favorite Mets fans. There are exceptions to every rule. By the way, Mr. Crank is celebrating his fourth blogging/baseball writing anniversary today. That's like, elderly, in internet years. Go say congrats.
This seems like an appropriate time to answer question #80:
You always say that your Mets rivalry is different than your Boston rivalry. Explain.
This is easy.
Oh, wait. I've been sidetracked into writing about why the Mets are easier to make fun of. Let me try again.
It is much easier to maintain a rivarly with a team that can actually compete with you. Rivalries against teams that will be 67 games behind yours in the standing two weeks into the season are just not worth it.
Other reasons I harbor much hatred towards the Mets:
Gary Carter, George Foster, Howard Johnson, Keith Hernandez, Len Dykstra, Roger McDowell, Doug Sisk, Lee Mazilli and 1980's era Strawberry, Gooden and Cone. Old shit? Yes, but rivalries run deep. Oh, it started before that. Way before that. Approach me with the phrase You Gotta Believe and I'll vomit in your Mets cap.
So, about that Mr. Met? Why make a mascot that just begs to have his head smacked in?
[This post is dedicated to Ratty, who suggested this topic at part of the Spirit of America challenge and who has a daughter who reminds me very much of my own. All previous dedicated posts can be found here]
The fates conspire to turn me all melodramatic and melancholy this morning. I was going to write about my daughter today anyhow, but an hour packing away photos last night and a trip to the Bleat yesterday made it seem somehow more apropos that I sit here and bemoan the passing of Nat's innocence years.
I grabbed a handful of photos to stuff into a moving box (I'm not very organized when it comes to pictures, which is why I prefer digital over analog. It's so much easier to move one hundred photos into a little set of folders on your desktop than it is to separate them by hand into real boxes that clutter up an already cluttered up closet). As I moved each pile of pictures, I would glance at one or two, getting quick visuals of the past as I dumped about twenty years worth of memories into a box marked in thick, black Sharpie "You are not allowed to take any more pictures until these are organized."
Looks like I'm in the Nat pile. Well, at least my mountains are organized, sort of. There she is on the first day of nursery school, crying. And there she is on Santa's lap, crying. And there she is with her best friend and hey, she's laughing!
And that's Nat in a nutshell. She's either hysterical crying or hysterical laughing. My child of extremes. When she was four, and had been tested and re-tested for a million different learning disabilities, one of the specialists told me that Nat has no middle ground, no even keel. She'll either cry as if she had been stabbed in the heart or laugh as if the whole world had told her a joke. When she got mad, it would be a rage filled anger. When she became happy, it would be a heart-bursting happiness. And during those down times when none of those emotions seemed appropriate, she would have what the specialist called a flat affect on her face. Nothing. Blank. Looking at her during those times was like looking at an unplugged television.
Ten years later, we don't see the flat affect as much, but Nat still knows how to completely turn off. And the big difference is, she can do it at will now, and she pushes that on/off button with seeming delight. Look, ma! I can turn you off! I can almost hear the click as her eyes glaze over and that look of emptiness comes over her. So I'll walk away, not wanting to waste my time trying to reach someone who is the equivalent of a thousand miles away.
When she was younger, she wouldn't even notice if I walked away, that's how far inside herself she would go. Now, if I ignore her - even though it seems to be that she wants to be ignored - the histrionics begin. I never listen to her, I never hear her, I never talk to her. Tears, sobbing, the world is ending and I'm the one killing it and oh, how her life is miserable and I don't understand her, in fact, no one understands her and she's just going to run away to Canada and start an ice farm.
Yes, I remember being a teenager and of course, I did the same thing. And when I was done making my mother feel like an utter failure at parenting, I would slam my door, put on the stereo and start composing morbid, depressing poetry. Which is pretty much what Nat does. I believe it's a requisite for being a teenager.
Back to the photos. I try to reconcile the charming, playful girl in the pictures with the girl who is, at this moment when I'm taken back to the day when she first walked and I caught her in a pose of half standing, half falling and there's the tv in the background and it's showing the first night vision scenes from the first Gulf War, she is screaming at her brother, calling him vile names because he dared to look at her and I think - my daughter has already seen two wars.
That's not a statement on the world or anything like that, it's a statement about time. The first Gulf War seems like ancient history, so does that make my daughter's childhood ancient history? It hits me then how much she has grown since that first step that coincided with the first bomb. Now there's a thing to remember, eh?
I put the photos away and I conduct a very hush-hush surveillance. I watch my daughter carefully as she moves swiftly from the kitchen to the bedroom. Back and forth. Send an instant message to someone, run into the bedroom, shriek about American Idol, run back to the computer, type with one hand while she balances the phone with the other, playing social director for one group of friends. She makes a plan, hits the three-way-calling button which I've told her not to use without permission (and which I mentally note that she owes me another fifty cents for), slams the keyboard drawer in, runs back into her room to hit record after the commercial break ends, all the while crying into the phone that no one understands her and I see the mental breakdown coming, it happens every week when she tries to juggle two separate but very unequal groups of friends and it's the Honor Society v. The Punks all over again. I secretly root for the Honor Society to win this week, not because the punks are bad kids, they are actually really good kids, but for some reason, I have ended up designated driver for that crowd.
It's obvious the plans will not be finalized this evening. Nat does not have time for this. She has to watch the end of American Idol and she still has not spent her allotted fifteen minutes she gets each evening to bitch at me for life in general and I just know tonight it will be about her impending orthodontic work, money for the Blink 182-concert, why I won't let her see R-rated movies and how mean and strict I am for not letting her paint her bedroom in the new house ten shades of black.
Her emotions change from second to second. I keep a scorecard in my head and tonight it's despair in a knock out over sullen anger. Oh, she's not mad that I am making her take the $62 for the concert out of her bank account; no, she's upset that her mother would actually make her pay for something herself! And she's not flailing the flying fists of rage over the black paint. No, tonight she turns on the waterworks and claims that I never let her do anything she wants. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever.
The waterworks of puberty are like no other. Once a girl is consumed by the PMS monster, tears no longer trickle. They pour. And each tear is accompanied by a choking sob and an appropriate phrase such as, you....(sob)....don't....(sob)...love...(sob)....me! Niagra Falls has nothing on a teenage girl's tear ducts.
I can see the conversation will go nowhere this time; sometimes anger is easier to deal with than the crying. I'm just about to get up off the couch, thus signifying that I have ended the discussion, when she beats me to it by shutting down. There it is, the flat affect, the distant eyes. She has won.
She retreats to her room and I resume with the photos. There she is at seven, at eight, at ten. She's got a great smile. There's one of her with her fifth grade teacher, who pretended she was at a book signing and Nat was autographing a copy of her latest book for the teacher. This teacher - the best thing that ever happened to my daughter - swears to this day that Natalie will be a famous author some day. I believe her.
Nat has an amazing imagination. Unfortunately, she sometimes cannot discern between imaginary and real, as when she thinks that I will just randomly buy her a laptop one day, or that I will take in her friend because he doesn't like his father or that we're going to get seven Dalmatians when we move into the new house.
Nat lives in Natville, population one. It's her world and she is the most important thing in it. As such, we should all revolve our lives, schedules and bank accounts around her.
She is Katie Ka-boom , sweet and beautiful one minute and an explosion of hormonal imbalance the next.
She's manipulative and devious, but sometimes it's a pleasure to watch those traits in action when she's giving her younger brother some deserved comeuppance.
Like many girls her age, Nat is a commpendium of emotions, personalities and quirks. Sometimes her moods change so quickly that even she is confused as to what mode she is supposed to be in.
The best thing I can say about Nat - and this is something I'm proud to say, not a cast-off compliment - is that she is firmly her own person. She has her convictions and, by god, no one will break her away from those convictions. I don't ever worry that she will start smoking or drinking because she is so adamant against those things that she'll probably end up on one of those truth.com commercials one day. If you ask her to go against her beliefs, she'll ditch you like yesterday's garbage. In her mind, no one she even dare suggest you betray your own values. She's a loyal, trusting person to have as a friend, but to be her enemy is to stand in the path of a hurricane. She's a deep thinker, a gifted writer, an improv comedian, and has, underneath that layer of blackened crust, a good heart.
I don't lay awake worrying about why she hates me; I know she doesn't really hate me. I don't worry that she turned out to be a rotten kid because she's really not. At all. I do think about what it was like when I was a teenager and I remember how hard it was to be thirteen, fourteen, even fifteen. I remember struggling to figure out who I was or who I wanted to be. So I empathize with her. It's just that the empathizing reaches a saturation point that directly correlates to the pitch and length of her whine.
I drive Nat to school every day, even though she has a bus available to her. It's right on my way and gives us about six minutes of just us. Six minutes may not seem like a lot, but I take what I can get. In that short drive she manages to tell me everything that's on her mind. She's smiling as she confides in me. She laughs. We're friends. And when I drop her off in front of the school, I get a kiss and hug and an I love you.
It's those six minutes and a box full of photos that make every last whine worth listening to.
"What I saw was village after village which has been burnt down," [British journalist] Phil Cox said on CNN's International Correspondents program. "Usually there are bodies around the villages. There are mass graves outside. When I say mass graves, I mean large pits in the earth, maybe 10 to 20 bodies in them, and these pits, 20 to 30 pits around the villages."Give me one good reason why the U.N. should not be dismantled.
Jim, Iím sending you this email because youíve demonstrated in so many ways the high regard you held for Pat Tillman. Ted Rall, a political columnist and cartoonist has recently published a cartoon that defamed Pat in a manner that was particularly despicable. Rather than try to describe the garbage this jackhole produced Iíll provide an internet link: http://www.ucomics.com/rallcom/ This particular cartoon was/is published in a wide array of places on the internet including MSNBC, which has since removed it from their website. Today, Mr. Rall is vigorously defending his work, saying, amongst other things: "At best, Tillman was foolish and misguided." And "Mr. Tillman served an evil president and an evil cause" as justification for his defamation. As you can imagine, this lunatic has infuriated a large segment of the online community who, like you, revere the memory of Pat Tillman. Jim, this moonbat deserves to be publicly excoriated for his actions and as the songs says "nobody does it better" than you my man. DaveDo with that what you will. [*ed note: This may be edited later for clarity, as I'm writing it on the fly]
Second, Mr. Tillman served an evil president and an evil cause. Anyone with an open mind after 9/11 could easily have learned the truth, that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq occured instead of a war on terror, not as part of one. A person who planned to risk his life in combat should reasonably be expected to dig a little deeper rather than to fall for Bush's transparent lies. We all judge each other, and while Tillman's decision to sacrifice millions of dollars for his beliefs is admirable, his belief that killing the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan had something to do with defending America was not. At best, Tillman was foolish and misguided. Finally, it's time for troops who signed up post-9/11 to take a little personal responsibility. It's one thing for a career soldier to go where the politicians tell him or her to go, but quite another to join the military when the "president" is an illegal usurper occupying the White House, he's an out-of-control warmonger using the deaths in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to promote a partisan political agenda and his wars are nothing more than grabs for control of oil and gas resources and pipeline routes. Liberals tend to let volunteer soldiers off the hook, but let's not forget the hard, cold truth: If no one had enlisted after 9/11, we wouldn't be fighting these immoral wars based on lies and greed now.There's more, including Rall comparing Tillman with a Palestinian suicide bomber. It angers me that Rall still believes that Afghanistan has nothing to do with the war on terror. It infuriates me that he took the word of some Afghans he hung out with (when he "risked his life as a visiting cartoonist") and determined that we were there for an oil pipeline. His outright reluctance to see fighting the Taliban as fighting terrorism mystifies me. Dementia, indeed. P.S. Until John Kerry stops advertising on Rall's blog and until Kerry stops linking to Democratic Underground, don't try to tell me that Rall and his kind do not represent the mainstream left. Obviously, they represent the man you are supporting for president. Update: I am going to say this just once more. While I view Pat Tillman as a hero, he was no more a hero than anyone else who puts their life on the line each day to fight the war against terrorism and evil. However, because Tillman was already familiar to many of us, his face became the face of the war. For myself - and I believe this is true for many people - Tillman represents all the soldiers who have died in the war on terror. If you piss on Tillman's grave, you're doing it to all of them. Second Update (below) Comics Journa writer Rich Fiore says:
This is in keeping with a theme in Rall's cartoons from even before the Afghanistan invasion, which is an absolute mania for denying any kind of heroic dimension to anything any American has done in the wake of the September 11 attacks. You saw it in his embrace of conspiracy theories regarding the airplane that crashed in Philadelphia. You saw it in his attempts to undermine the heroic aura that attached to police and firemen. Now, public safety employees are not expected to commit suicide, and the police and firemen who were killed in the buildings didn't realize they were going to fall down, so even though they were undertaking extra hazardous duty for the sake of others you could conceivably argue they were not acting heroically. But here you have the Tillman story. If giving up wealth, fame and comfort to go into anonymous and deadly combat for patriotic reasons isn't objectively heroic behavior then the word has no meaning. Even if you don't believe in the cause yourself, you have to admit that this is the sort of thing that makes gentlemen safe abed hold their manhood cheap. But it's precisely because the behavior is heroic that Rall needs to attack it. Like many people who become obsessed with JFK conspiracy theories, he has gone off the deep end.Yes. [credit: Treacher]
Should you and I ever cross paths one day (and the time is getting close to where I will do my best to make that happen), I will risk the chances of going to jail just for that one moment of joy I will feel when my fist meets your face. You are a blight upon the human race and a disgrace to your profession. Yet, you are too stupid and self-absored to realize just how much of an idiot you are. I don't know whether to pity you or kick you in your small, shriveled balls.
A festering sore on the face of humanity, indeed.
Update: Smash has something even worse: people encouraging soldiers to frag their officers.
[Ed note: While I normally don't consider violence a proper reaction to circumstances like this, I did advocate it here, and I'm not taking it back. I seriously would punch the man if I ever saw him. However, I do not in any way condone death threats. You want to threaten the man with death, do it on your own site. Homey don't play that.]
Update: Please note that the comments here have been closed. Just...really unproductive.
In June of 2003, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Believe me when I tell you I was stunned to hear that news. I thought I was too young. I hardly ever get sick. I eat my veggies, for heaven's sake! How could I end up with cancer? But I did have it, and that diagnosis was the start of a long journey of getting well. A journey that included a few surgeries, four cycles of chemo, and several weeks of radiation. Somewhere during the months of feeling nauseous and tired, I promised myself that when I was done with my last chemo I would sign up for the 3-Day walk. A few hours after my last chemo, in December 2003, I made good on my promise and registered to participate in the Boston 3-Day walk, being held late July of this year. I will be walking in honor of my Grandmother Kate (pictured above left with me), my Aunt Joyce (pictured above right, with my grandmother), and my cousin Diane, all of whom are breast cancer survivors and sources of inspiration to me. (The bald chick is yours truly, of course.)You can read more about Jen's battle with breast cancer here. Jen's prognosis is good, but not everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer will have the same good fortune as Jen, which is why raising money for this cause is so important. Jen's personal goal is $5,000. She needs just thirty dollars to reach that, but I'd like to see her exceed that goal, by far. I've been reading Jen's blog for at least a year, probably more. She's one of those people who are instantly likeable. Head over to Cup and Saucer, say hello to Jen and then drop by her walk page and drop a few coins in her cup. The walk is not until July, so I'll be mentioning this again and that gives you a couple of months to check on her walk training and offer up some encouragement. Go, Jen! Speaking of dedicated posts, at some point today I will have to don some Mets gear in answer to my Mets/Sox challenge. I may have to wait until tonight, so I can get drunk enough to not feel horrible about wearing the blue and orange.