Blame Lileks. I was going to leave the whole white lights/colored lights issue alone until he brought it up today.
I am a Christmas purist and as such, my decorating sensibilities demand colored lights. If you have nothing but white lights on your house, I will suspect that you also have your tree decorated in some weird Victorian rose scheme, with nary a Christmas color to be found.
I wrote this last year and it still stands:
Yes, yes, yes. The big, primary colored lights. The ones that made your neighborhood like a box of Crayola crayons. The ones that lit up the snow with their colors. REAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTS! Not these sissified, oh so tasteful, prim and proper lights. What the hell is that? It looks like you've just left some lights on so your kids could find their way home. From the woods. The dark, evil woods. Where you left them as a sacrifice to the Christmas Light Spirit. But the Christmas Light Spirit didn't want them. You know why? BECAUSE YOU HAVE WHITE LIGHTS ON YOUR HOUSE!
In a (my) perfect Christmas world, everyone would have oversized, electricity-sucking colored bulbs on their houses. Red, blue, green and yellow. It would be snowing all the time; fluffy, soft snow that piles on the lawn and fences, creating a picturesque scene that is worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. The glow of the colored bulbs would reflect off the snow, giving the entire street the effect of being bathed in wide swatches of color. We would all don our rubber boots and hooded parkas and trudge through the streets, our feet making crunching sounds as they packed down the foot or more of snow with each step. And that would be the only sound you hear for a while - no trucks or cars or snowblowers, just the crunch, crunch, crunching of snow underfoot and the occasional giggle of a small child who captures a snowflake on his tongue. Later, you would be able to hear the soft, off key voices of those children as they went door to door, serenading the neighbors with Christmas carols in exchange for mugs of hot chocolate, held in hands covered with snow crusted woolen mittens.
And then all the kids would go home to their respective houses and put on their feetie pajamas and sit around the fireplace while their parents read Christmas stories to them.
It's Pleasantville, with colored lights, and it's all based on my childhood. Well, loosely based. Very loosely based.
We always intended our forays into Christmas caroling to be idyllic, in an innocent, 1950's kind of way. We had good intentions. We had the parkas and the rubber boots and the off key voices. We just didn't have the right amount of Wally and the Beaver in us to pull it off correctly.
Our trudging through the neighborhood was not quiet at all. We were like a pack of rabid dogs who turned on each other. Lori wanted to stand in front all the time because she thought - mistakenly - that she had a beautiful singing voice. She was the only one who couldn't hear that her whispery vocal stylings sounded more like helium escaping from a balloon than Roberta Flack (Lori's rendition of Killing Me Softly was to die for. Literally). So Lori would run up ahead of us, trying to gain the coveted spot of bell-ringer and first soprano. The boys would pelt her with snowballs as she ran ahead and more often than not, Lori would end up face down in a foot of snow, crying that we were just jealous of her.
Our intentions were to hit at least five houses a night. We knew our neighbors weren't that keen on carolers and instead of making us hot chocolate, they would just hand each of us a quarter - usually mid song - and give us a faint smile as they closed the door on our efforts. Which was all we wanted. A few quarters a night, pooled together, meant a trip to Murray's and candy for everyone.
Murray was an old man who ran a small candy/cigarette/expired milk store on the corner. We would have much preferred to go to 7-11, but none of us were allowed to cross the big, bad street to get there. So we settled for Murray's, where the Bazooka gum often had teeth marks courtesy of Murray's snarling, vicious, child hating dog.
We once hit upon the idea of singing Christmas carols to Murray. We thought it would soften his heart, as if life were nothing but a sappy tv movie and we were writing the script. When we burst into his store singing Silent Night, Murray shrank back in horror. I had a vision of Murray as the wicked witch, melting under Dorothy's thrown water.
"I'm a Jew, you idiots! A Jew!" Gloria stepped forward, staring down Murray. "Yea, well, Ricki and Larry and Jews and they're singing!" She pointed to the siblings who were now staring at the floor. "Well, they should be ashamed of themselves. Get out of my store, now!" Gloria stared at Murray defiantly. She was the oldest of all of us and moved to the suburbs straight from some crime-ridden pocket in Queens. Leader of the Pack, complete with black leather jacket. She sneered at Murray. "Face it, Murray. You just don't like us singing because we're happy and you're not." The old man stared silently at us. I immediately began forming this scenario in mind in which Murray would say that Gloria was right, he was lonely and unhappy and maybe the beautiful children of the neighborhood who had voices like golden angels and hearts filled with love and charity would look kindly upon this old man and forgive him all his transgressions, including rancid milk and dog-chewed gum. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, everyone! And we'd all hug and do a rousing rendition of Dreidel, Dreidel for Murray while the neighbors poured out of their houses to join us.
Murray spat at Gloria. Spat! The wad missed her by a few inches and landed on the counter. The dog came over and licked it up. We marched out of the store in single file and everyone laughed at Murray's lame attempt at spitting except for me. I was dejected. I wanted Murray's heart to grow three times its size! I think that was a subtle beginning to my career as a cynic.
So we trudged on, making our way through the gray, slush snow which no longer crunched under our feet, thanks to a light drizzle and heavy local traffic. Our rubber boots went squish on the way down and sounded something like a plunger being removed from a toilet bowl on the way up. Squish. Pop. Squish. Pop. Almost in unison, a marching band of wet, freezing kids who just wanted to spread some holiday cheer and maybe make a buck or two in the process.
Lori was the one who insisted on going to Scott's house. Scott was the grade school equivalent of the high school quarterback. King of the playground, center of the lunchroom, best looking kid in any K-6 school for miles around. Lori, who fancied herself the female version of Scott, had been trying to convince Scott that they would make a lovely couple. Scott, all of eleven years old at the time, still hadn't made the transition from swapping baseball cards to swapping spit. Lori, meanwhile, had been queen of Spin the Bottle since third grade. It was her contention that she would make Scott her boyfriend and teach him a thing or two about what it means to be a man. Lori was a girl ahead of her time, mature in ways that were dangerous. She had grown tits before any of the girls in school. Even the sixth grade girls were jealous of Lori's bulging shirt. Lori had a habit of wearing her coat open wide even when it was freezing out. She wore shirts that accentuated her womanhood and whispers around the fourth grade were that Lori had even gotten her period already. She was a woman. A woman! And it was only right that a woman had a man and Scott, who had the faintest hint of facial hair and whose voice was already changing, was the prime candidate.
So we headed over toward's Scott's house. On the way there, Lori lectured us about the caroling protocol. She would ring the bell. She would stand in front. She would sing all the key verses to Rudolph, while we did the background vocals. We were about to fight her on all issues, but Gloria silenced us with a glare. Whatever. We'd just let Lori have her way, collect a few quarters and make the mad dash across the forbidden street to 7-11, now that we were no longer welcome at Murray's.
What happened next was really Lori's fault. She would not shut up. She kept going on about how she deserves to be Scott's girlfriend, that she was the prettiest and most mature girl in the school, that her voice was so much better than all of ours and we were just kids, after all (Lori had been left back in first grade, so she was a whole. year. older. than all of us, except Gloria).
We had tired of Lori. We had tired of trudging in slush that had now formed into some sort of icy glue that wouldn't let go of our boots. We were cold and hungry and I could swear I heard my mother calling me. But I walked on.
We got to Scott's house and, according to plan, Lori - her coat unbuttoned to reveal a tight, pale green, fake cashmere sweater - rang the bell. Scott's mother answered the door and we immediately burst into the first chorus of Rudolph. Lori whirled around and threw a look of burning rage our way. She whispered through clenched teeth, "I told you not to sing except for the background. And we are supposed to be singing for Scott. Not his stupid mother." We backed off and Lori turned on her sweet voice and asked Scott's mom to fetch her son. I heard the boys behind me giggling and whispering and when I turned to see what they were up to, Steve just held a finger to his lips. Something was up. Judging from the laughter coming from the back of our group, it was going to be good.
Finally, Scott came to the door. Lori's eyes met his and she gave him a sultry (at least a twelve year old version of sultry) smile. She launched right into her solo effort.
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer...
Each word, each syllable was sung in a throaty whisper and I just know that Lori was imagining herself in a slinky white dress, singing birthday wishes to the president. It was Christmas carol porn.
We were meant to sing the backing vocals; words that had been made up and inserted over the ages to give the song a funny (to a kid, anyhow) edge.
Lori: Had a very shiny nose
Us: Like a lightbulb!
Lori: And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows
Us: Like Pepsodent!
I had no idea what that meant. Does Pepsodent glow? No matter, the lore of the added verses had been passed down from grade to grade and we had to do our part to carry on the tradition, even if it made no sense to us.
And on the song went, Lori doing her best Marilyn Monroe, the rest of us shouting the added lyrics in unison in a terrible cacophony of missed notes and Lori turning to glare at us every time. Finally, the last verse. Lori puffed her chest out a bit more, making sure that Scott noticed the fine, shapely lumps emerging from her sweater. She had her right hand on her hip and she used her left hand to keep flipping her hair. Her hips swayed as she sang. The combination of the tits, the hair, the hips and the swaying were, I suppose, supposed to be sexy in a twelve year old way, but made her look like more like a spazz who had to pee really bad.
Rudolph the red nose reindeer, you'll. Go. Down. In. Hist-or-y. All breathy and teasing. That's where we were supposed to chime in with LIKE COLUMBUS! and get a nice round of applause. But during the "reindeer games" verse, the instructions came from the back to the front. No one was supposed to say the Columbus line. Everyone just stay silent. I shrugged and went along with the game.
Lori: Rudolph the red nose reindeer, you'll. Go. Down. In. Hist-or-y.....
Boys: LORI STUFFS!
Silence, save for a few stifled giggles from the rear of the chorus. Lori pulled the flaps of her jacket tight, turned on her heels and went running down the steps. Scott looked rather amused, while his mother looked a bit horrified. The rest of us just stood there, feeling rather awkward. As Lori maneuvered her way around us trying to high tail it out of Scott's yard, she tripped over a cord that was haphazardly strung around a hedge at the end of Scott's walk. She fell to the ground, pulling some of the lights from the bush down with her. And there she lay until Gloria helped her to feet, face down in the snow and silhouetted by a dozen or so big, colored lights.
I knew right then that this was the end of many things - our caroling for candy scheme; our otherwise tight knit group of misfits; Lori's plans for to be queen to Scott's playground king. It also meant the end of the lumps under Lori's sweater, as everyone within five miles of our school would find out in no less than 24 hours that Lori's tits were no more than artistically folded socks.
We didn't see Lori for many days after that, as she chose to sequester herself in her bedroom, with only visits from a revenge-plotting Gloria to cheer her up. I heard from Lori's brother - who was part of the "Lori stuffs" chorus, that his sister burst into tears when their grandmother gave her socks for Christmas.
Perhaps now you can see why I hold dear the tradition of oversized, colored lights. Nostalgia for the good old days, when we brought a queen-sized ego down to jester size. Every time I see a house all lit up with the colors of 60's suburbia Christmas, I can't help but think of Lori, laying on the ground like a forlorn toy from Misfit Island.
Good times, good times.
The dream and aftermath are always the same; a field of sorts, a path and the sensation that heís walking down the path at a great speed. Not running, just walking very fast. He never sees himself, only whatís on the path. Leaves, rocks, strewn bottles and cigarette butts. Sometimes he will stop to examine something, never with his hands, just his eyes. Heíll look closely at a leaf and marvel at its veins, heíll look towards a pile of dirt and wonder whatís buried underneath.
Nick does not determine the direction he takes or when he stops; something - or someone - else does that for him. Heís guided, or led.
Eventually he wakes up, or tries to. He recognizes that heís in his bed, no longer walking the path. He tries to fully awaken, to sit up, but heís frozen, corpse like. His arms are heavy weights, his legs immobile. He tries to scream, even though he knows he will not be able to. Heís in some purgatory between dreaming and waking, unable to go to either place. Thereís a great pressure on his chest, as if someone is sitting on him, knees pressed into his abdomen. Heís cold. Heís terrified. He imagines he will die momentarily, even though a speckle of clarity somewhere in his mind tells him that he will awaken, he will be ok, itís just like the other times.
No, not this one. This one has something else going on. Instead of just feeling the presence of someone or something bad in the room, a bad thing that is kneeling on his chest, he sees it. His eyes open briefly, breaking from the paralysis and he sees the boy. Although the room is dark, thereís a bright glow around the child that allows him to see clearly the person who is causing him such distress. Heís smiling, the boy. No, grinning. Heís dark skinned, maybe seven years old, wearing a yellow sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head. He can see the boyís eyes, squinted in a way that gives him the appearance of laughing at a good joke. He wants to reach up to touch the boy, but he still canít move his arms. Yet Nick knows that if he were able to reach out, he would grab onto nothing more than air. Despite the weight pressing down on his chest, Nick is aware that this boy is a product of his nightmares. Heís seen him before, on the path.
For years, the path was merely an hallucination. Nick would start the journey as soon as he closed his eyes, when he was still awake and aware of the night; Letterman talking on the tv that was always on; the hum of the radiator; the passing cars. Yet he dreamed anyway, as long as his eyes were closed, and he always followed the path gladly. Nick enjoyed the mystery of what his mind was offering him.
It wasnít until recently that he began to see people instead of just leaves and garbage. They are always gathered in small bunches off the side of the path and turn their heads slightly when Nick passes. He thinks they anticipate his arrival they were talking about him as he went by. After a few weeks the figures become familiar; a few old women, wearing housecoats and kerchiefs; a young girl, maybe a teenager, who stares at him intently each time. Sometimes whispers to him and itís weeks before Nick makes out the words. Help. Each night her voice raise an octave, becomes clearer and stronger, until she is screaming at him in a voice that shakes the trees. The hag. The hag wants you. And each night, next to the girl, stands the little boy in the yellow sweatshirt, always grinning, always with that soft glow around him.
Nick is always intrigued by the people; he wants to talk to them, to find out who they areand why they haunt him. But his impetus is not his own, he is forced to move silently past them. He thinks about them during the day, when the sunlight and business of life keep him from being frightened. There are days he canít wait to get into bed, to see the people again, to find a way to talk to them and find out who this hag is and why she wants him. But always, when he gets into bed in the dark of night, Nick becomes frightened at what may lie ahead and he thinks - no, he knows - the night fear is what is keeping him from being able to confront the people on the path.
Now, the little boy had somehow walked out of Nickís dream with him and, perhaps, closed the door to the waking world before Nick could get out. He realizes there is no way to go back and no way forward. Heís stuck in a constant battle to breath, to move, while this little boy grins down at him.
Finally, Nick is able to slightly move his left hand. He clenches and unclenches his fist, as if trying to get blood to circulate in a hand that had fallen asleep. The boy vanishes. Nick swallows huge gulps of air, hungry for breath, for waking life. He checks for signs of reality - in front of him, the tv is still on and a hyperactive chef selling knives moves across the screen. To the left, his alarm clock glows. He bends to the right to reach for the water glass on his night stand and lets out a muted whine of terror.
The yellow sweatshirt boy is standing there, holding Nickís water. The boy is an overexposed photo; the glow, the never changing smile, the small spikes of hair sticking out from his hood. He holds out the water for Nick. Nick shakes his head, not in response to the boyís offer, but to try to rattle his brain into a state of clarity. The shaking wakes his brain so he can grab seconds of reality to keep his composure, a trick he learned when he was much younger and had to much to smoke; it made the hallucinations disappear, if briefly. But his head shaking does nothing here; the boy remains, holding out the glass, grinning.
Panic rises in Nickís throat and he chokes on it. The boy pushes his arm out, as if to say, here, dummy, drink the water. Nick doesnít know what else to do. It seems absurd to be taking a glass from an leftover dream apparition, but he thinks perhaps it would be just as absurd not to take it, so he reaches his hand out toward the glass. In an instant, the boyís hand is empty, the glass of water vanished and he is holding Nick by the wrist. Heís strong for a child; Nick can feel himself being pulled off the bed. The boy whispers now, in the same scratchy voice as the girl. The hag wants you. He struggles with the boy, fighting to stay on the bed and briefly he remembers the game of sharks he played with his brothers years ago. Donít let your feet off the bed, he tells himself. The sharks will get you. The boy suddenly gives up and lets go of Nickís wrist. Heís gone. Nick heaves himself back to the middle of the bed and lays motionless, afraid any movement will conjure the boy up again.
He wakes when the sun reaches into his room. He doesnít remember falling back asleep after the fight with the boy; in fact, Nick determines it was all part of a dream, despite his sore wrist. He gets out of bed, struggling to gain some composure and begin the day as if it were any other.
He goes into the kitchen, thinking only of coffee. He senses their presence before he sees them and he turns slowly, convincing himself that heís just spooked, there really isnít two people sitting at his kitchen table as if they had every right to be there. Yet, there they are. The grinning boy in the sweatshirt and the girl.
Nick doesnít know what to say. What does one say to two figures from dreams?
Sheíll come for you tonight. Herself. Not us. The girls nervously plays with her hair as she talks.
You should have come with us, says the boy. Itís always so much easier that way.
Nick turns to the coffee pot. He will never go to sleep again, he tells himself. He will stay awake forever.
The girl laughs, as if Nickís thoughts were painted above his head in a thought balloon for her to read.
Thatís what they all say, she says. See you in two or three days, Nick.
And then they were gone.----------- I wasn't too happy with the ending here, but these are supposed to be short-short stories and I struggled with how to make the story end in a timely fashion. I may write another story for Gabe, as I'm not too thrilled with this one . I had an idea to turn this into a bigger story, with sort of a comedic touch, as Nick is forced by the hag to care for the two dream beings, as he caused them to be stuck in the waking world. The title of the story, Hypnagogic, refers to the hypnagogic state, "the state between being awake and falling asleep. For some people, this is a time of visual and auditory hallucination." I'm quite familiar with this phenomenon, as well as sleep paralysis, which Nick experiences in the story. Sleep paralysis is also referred to as Old Hag Syndrome.
Nothing before 1969? The first known organized attempt at songmaking is recorded as having happened several centuries ago. Yeah, I know. This is a personal taste list and I don't much care for Gregorian chants either, but there are some great songs from the forties and fifties not to mention some of Schubert's lieder.If you are going to diss my list, make sure to read it carefully before you post your comments. A cursory glance through the list tells me that there are at least eight songs that are pre-1969. Another thing I will do when I annotate the list is put the years of the song. Eventually, this will all go into a sortable Excel file so you can check the list by artist, year and possibly genre. Also, as I've mentioned previousl, a simple CTRL F will keep you from suggesting songs or artists that are already on the list. I'm at 357 now and all of you pure metal fans will he happy to see that Motorhead's Ace of Spades finally makes a grand entrance. The last 100 will be the hardest. I don't want to end up filling the list with crap just to get to the end. These are all honestly songs that I love for one reason or another. It's at this point in the endeavor that I'm really going to need you to rattle my brain. The best thing to do before making a suggestion is really read the list to figure out what I like and not offer up suggestions based strictly on what you like. The conspicous absence of any Beatles or Stones songs has been noted many times already, by the way. Update: Damn. Pril made it 531!
So, you ask, do you think TDC is good book? Depends on what your idea of good is. If by good, you mean that the writing is deep and mature and takes you far into the world of the book, where you feel as if you know the characters and have lived in the settings, and the phrasing of the words is sometimes so beautiful it takes your breath away, then no. If by good you mean the author manages to keep you turning the pages even though his writing is stilted and the characters are like stick figures, then yes, it was good.
Dan Brown is not an amazing writer. His books do not sell because he can perform miracles of life with a pen. I keep thinking that Brown must have one hell of a publicist for this book to garner the type of attention it did.
TDC is not the first book to take on the tenets of the Catholic church or Christianity. In fact, I think Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is far more damaging to the Christian belief system than TDC (and far, far, better written).
Where Brown succeeds is in brevity, I suppose. TDC is not a very long book and he sort of rushes through every aspect of the story, never stopping too long on one subject enough to make it a treatise which, I suppose, would turn off readers looking for a page turner.
Brown's characters elicit no sympathy from this reader. They were hollow, wooden puppets, held up - barely - by the strings of Brown's flimsy plot devices. In fact, the only character I liked - the grandfather - spends 99% of the book dead. Most of the characters were absolute cliches and Brown often resorted to phrasing that appeared to come off of bumper stickers.
Yet, I read the book in a few scattered hours. It was intriguing, but not for the storyline. Instead, it was Brown's injected conspiracy theories that kept me interested. I wonder what his motives were for writing the book; it appears to me that he wanted less to write a good thriller than he wanted to use the novel as a venue to tell people that he thinks the history of Christianity is a farce.
I see TDC as nothing more than a piece of fiction interspersed with Brown's view of reality, vis a vis the Catholic church and the history of Christ. He presents his material in such a way that people who take affront to any attack on the church will view Brown's material as heresy, rather than the rantings of a man with an agenda. I'm almost amused by those who have taken the book so seriously that they rushed to debunk it. How do you debunk fiction? How do you debunk a man's opinion? Granted, he used real agencies - The Vatican, Opus Dei - in a disparaging way, but how many books out there use other real life organizations in fiction? It's only because Brown used TDC to put a puncture wound in the faith of some that the book was taken so literally by many.
The best thing I can say about the book is that it piqued my interest in many subjects, among them Da Vinci himself, the classic artwork referenced in the novel and the mystery of the Grail. If TDC acts as a stepping stone for people, myself included, to educate themselves in areas that were previously unknown to them, then that's a good thing. However, I don't think that was Brown's intention, nor do I think that the masses who have staged a war against the book are doing; they are fighting against one man's fictional concept of their belief system, which seems like a vast waste of energy. If anyone comes out of reading TDC having their faith shaken, then I would suggest that their faith was not too strong to begin with.
As a novel, TDC is pedestrian. The plot is thin, the codes are easily seen by the reader before the characters break them, the plot twists are either telegraphed or inconceivable to the point of absurdity and the ending is contrived. It's a page turner only because Brown is a master manipulator; he drags you in with theories and near blasphemies that make you think, but he never puts these things to great use. Instead, you end up turning the page just to see how the damn thing ends. As one who grew up with a love for cryptograms, Encyclopedia Brown, logic puzzles and adventure games, I felt let down by the book; it could have offered me so much more than it did.
I didn't turn the last page with the satisfaction that I normally get when I finish a book. Instead, I was left wondering what Dan Brown's real motivation is. Which made me feel a bit used, as a reader.
Kudos to Brown for forcing me to educate myself on Da Vinci, the arts and the history of the mysterious grail. But thumbs down to him for writing such tripe and passing it off as history.
The decoration turned a lot of heads Friday morning. Several drivers cruising by Sebastian's on Troy-Schenectady Road couldn't stop staring. A female doll, wearing a T-shirt that says 'I've been naughty,' stands right in front of an inflatable Santa Clause.Apparently the good folks of Latham don't like to mix sexual innuendos and Christmas. I can't say I blame them. I'm calling bad form here. And from California:
For six years, Alan and Bonnie Aerts transformed their Silicon Valley home into a Christmas wonderland, complete with surfing Santa, jumbo candy canes and a carol-singing chorus of mannequins.$150,000 worth of lights, which led to a breaking of this rule: 6. A line of cars rolls down the block from December 1st until New Years, turning your neighborhood into a tourist attraction.
This year, though, the merry menagerie stayed indoors. Instead, on the manicured lawn outside the couple's Tudor mansion stands a single tiding: a 10-foot-tall Grinch with green fuzz, rotting teeth, and beet-red eyeballs. The Aertses erected the smirking giant to protest the couple across the street ó 16-year residents Le and Susan Nguyen, who initiated complaints to city officials that the display was turning the quiet neighborhood into a Disneyesque nightmare.While I rail against overdone Christmas displays, I think the fun lies in actually looking at and documenting the stuff. I would never go so far as to complain to authorities about a neighbor's display. I say kudos to the Aertses for the clever Grinch decoration. Send all tips (whether they be photos of your own or articles found on the net) to karlrovesbrainATgmailDOTcom.
Shawn asks: Should Drew Henson or Vinny Testaverde start against the Bears on Thanksgiving Day?Well, the answer lady is too late on this one, as it has already been determined that Drew will start. You know, when your team has to choose between a rookie whose only TD pass was a one yarder and a 41 year old near has-been with a sore shoulder, it's time to start questioning your team loyalty.
Meep asks: Is it okay to host a turkey-less Thanksgiving? One of these years, I'd like to host Thanksgiving, and I hate cooking turkey. Besides, my husband is a vegetarian. An all-vegetarian thanksgiving? If we've got enough alcohol, do you think that would be okay? We brew our own beer.A vegetarian Thanksgiving is like Christmas without Santa Claus. Not that I'm implying that turkey is a fictional image which embodies the secular takeover of a religious holiday. Not at all. However, turkey does play a vital, important role in all Thanksgiving feasts. Making a turkey out of wheatmeat or tofu would be sacreligous, if eating meat were a religion, which it is to some of us. I also have a question. The tofu turkey linked above is shaped like, well, a turkey. Not a carcass that comes out of a normal, meat-eating household oven on Thanksgiving day. No, it's shaped like a live, breathing turkey, with a beak and eyes and that long thing that hangs down its neck. Wouldn't a vegetarian feel bad about digging his fork into that bird? The plaintive eyes and sad turkey smile might not be real, but surely the vegan conscience would not let one stab even a tofu turkey in the heart. Sort of makes my longing to devour the Turkey Named Adam not such a bad thing, eh? I think if I ever was in a home where they were serving a tofu turkey that was molded to look like the real thing, I would hide a little microchip in there somewhere so when anyone went to take a stab at the tofu bird, it would let out a cry. Nooooo, please don't eat me! You bastard! Anyhow, I think our meat eating ancestors would be ashamed to know that a thing like tofu turkey exists. But you go ahead and make it. Just don't say I didn't warn you when the ghosts of a thousand indians and pilgrims make their way into your bedroom on Thanksgiving night and pelt you with haunted animal carcasses. That's gotta smell really bad. Happy Thanksgiving. And enjoy that tofurky jurky.
This one goes out by request to an anonymous-remaining person who donated to Spirit of America in the name of ASV (see here for details on that) and, for her kindness, gets a crappy piece of short fiction (500 words or less) to go with the picture she picked out (see details for that here). So, someone gets the losing end of the bargain here.
Anyhow, the picture is once again by my husband. The fiction is by me. Enjoy, or not.
I run my finger along the dust on your desk. I hold back the urge to scrawl my name in your dirt. The dust clings to my pinky and I wipe it on your shirt, the one you were wearing the last time I saw you. It hangs on the bedpost like a reminder, a ghost of you with loose arms and wrinkles and a fading marker stain on the right sleeve.
Your bed is cold and it sinks down in the middle. I sit on it like the captain of a boat, looking straight ahead for signs of land but I see only myself staring back through your streaky mirror. I rock back and forth, arms folded inside themselves, legs crossed, a piece of hair caught on my dry lip. I touch your pillow, examine its drool stains.
I imagine that youíre here and weíre talking about diamond rings and forever. You tuck my hair behind my ear, annoyed that it ends up in my mouth all the time. I promise to get a hair cut. You promise to introduce me to your friends. I stop imagining because it makes me feel like someone kicked me in my side.
I touch the snowglobe on your desk, the one with the taxicabs and skyscrapers and synthetic snow falling down on plastic people. I shake it and shake it and shake it and the snow falls and falls and no matter how hard I shake, the little people always smile and the little taxi never goes anywhere.
I crawl back into your bed and remember the way it felt to have your arm draped across me all night. I remember how the bottom of your feet were all cracked and hard and how you sometimes laughed in your sleep. I try to feel it, try to will myself to feel the weight of your arm on my stomach, to hear the dry whisper of your last good night.
Itís starting to snow now, light puffs of white slapping against the window. I imagine Iím in a snowglobe and Iím always smiling and the clock never moves and the headlights never appear outside the window, making me tumble from the bed and towards the back door like someone just shook my world.
All the text herein is copyright © 2004 Michele Catalano. All rights reserved. All art herein is copyright © 2004 Justin Brejwo. All rights reserved.
Previous fiction here.
Because I am a selfless and giving human being, and because I am wise beyond my years and becaus I really have nothing else to do the rest of the day or night except avoid cleaning the house, I have decided to devote my time to you, in order that your Thanksgiving may be the best Thanksgiving possible.
I am opening up the phone lines (ok, comment lines) for your Thanksgiving questions. Ok, so I don't know how to baste a turkey and I'm not sure what side of the dish your salad fork goes on, but I am chock full of insight and knowledge when it comes to all things family.
If you have any questions about spending time with relatives - for instance, Is it polite to use grandpa's wheelchair to carry the dirty dishes into the kitchen, or Is it ok to have sex in the coat room - just ask away. I can deal with any issues concerning keeping the family peace and, conversely, adding some spice to your Thanksgiving meal (i.e, with inappropriate prayers of thanks). I also advise on how to get through a meal that tastes like crap and how to avoid taking part in the clean up activities.
The doctor is in.Update: Forgot to mention that all questions will be answered tomorrow morning. Update again: The first answers are up!
To the one true God above: here is my prayer - not the first you've heard, but the first I wrote. (not the first, but the others were a long time ago). There are two people here, and I want you to kill them. Her - she can go quietly, by disease or a blow to the base of her neck, where her necklaces close, where her garments come together, where I used to lay my face... That's where you oughta kill her, in that particular place.This is all sung in a plaintive plea over staccatto guitar bursts. But it's not until the next verse that the song nails its place in my list.
Him - just fucking kill him, I don't care if it hurts. Yes I do, I want it to, fucking kill him but first make him cry like a woman, (no particular woman),Maybe it's my dark sense of humor, I don't know. But the first time I heard this song and that one line - no particular woman - was sung, I thought, that's a genius bit of writing, there. And the song became an instant favorite. Besides that one line, I'm firm believer that you can't go wrong with murder and profanity during times of great stress. Admit it, there have been people in your life that you wanted dead at one point or another. Singing Prayer to God at the appropriate times can be great therapy. Just make sure the kiddies aren't around.
Strengthen The Good: Help Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia. Douglas and his family are in Bratislava for a year, teaching English and American Studies to Slovakian teenagers, at a small and poor school set among the towers of a Soviet-era apartment block. They call English ďthe language of freedom and opportunityĒ Ö but they have no English-language books. So I thought we could help build a library, and have something to feel good about along the way. Got an extra copy of The Fountainhead or Old Yeller or the works of T. S. Eliot lying around?There's a list of books Douglas is looking for to build the library at The C.S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnaziumin in Bratislava's Petrzalka district. Go to Strengthen the Good for more info, and start digging through your bookshelves. I think I'm going to take a trip to Borders today to buy a few copies of Lord of the Rings to send over.
Spiderman: I still don't see why we all have to have Thanksgiving
together. Superheroes, villians, goth people - it's a recipe for disaster!
Batman: Ha! Remember last year? Mark McGwire's head popped off in that free-for-all.
Boba Fett: Yea, the free-for-all that you started!
Skeletor: Shut up, Fett. You were the one that made us play drinking games. It's your fault.
Madman: Now, now, lets not rehash last year. I say we start this year off with something nice. How about we all go around the table and say what we are thankful for?
Evil Ash: Oh, geez. We all gonna hold hands and bow our heads in prayer, too?
Buddy Christ: You got a problem with that, bad ass?
Evil Ash: Sorry, Jesus.
Madman: Ok, Spawn, why don't you start?
Spawn stands up, glass of whiskey in his hand.
Spawn: I'm thankful for that outfit Asuka is wearing today.
He-Man: Hey! You can't talk about my girlfriend like that!
Spawn (laughing maniacally): Yourgirlfriend? I've been sleeping with her for three weeks!
He-Man: NOOOOOO! Say it isn't true!!
Spawn: Told ya!
He-Man runs from the room crying
Spiderman: Oh, for Christ's sake!
Buddy Christ: Hey, I had nothing to do with this, man.
Madman: Well, let's wait on dinner a bit until we all calm down. Let's watch some football.
They all gather in the living room to watch the game. Fifteen minutes later, there's a crashing sound. He-Man comes swinging through the window on a rope, his feet aimed for Spawn's head. He swings down on top of Spawn. They tumble to the ground and when Spawn stands up, his cape is ripped in half.
Spawn: You son of a bitch! You mother fucking asshole! You are dead! Do you hear me? DEAD!
He-Man: Yea, I'm shaking in my boots, you girlfriend stealer!
Spawn: My fucking cape. I can't believe it. You'll pay for this you asswipe!
Spawn runs from the room, still yelling obscenities.
Skeletor: Well, another fine Thanksgiving this is turning into.
Death: I think it's rather amusing.
Sandman: You would.
Boba Fett: Is that food ready yet? I'm starving.
Madman: The turkey should be just about cooked. Let's go back into the dining room.
Everyone moves towards the dining area while He-Man lingers, looking around.
Evil Ash: What's the matter He-Man, looking for your balls?
He-Man: Shut up, you freak. Hey, has anyone seen Battlecat?
Green Goblin: I think I saw him fucking your girlfriend. HAHAHAH!
They meet the others in the dining area.
Madman: Tada! I present to you the most amazing Thanksgiving meal ever!
Several Street Fighter guys bring in plates heaped with food and set them on the table.
Madman: Edward Scissorhands, would you do the honors, please?
Edward (mumbling): Every year, it's Edward cut the turkey, Edward cut the pies.
Spiderman: That is the hugest turkey I have ever seen. I can't wait to dig in.
He-Man: Where the hell is Battlecat?
Spawn: Really. He was just dying to dig into his plate.
Edward finishes slicing the meat and everyone clamors for the different plates. They dig in right away, eating hungrily and noisily.
Spawn: Hold up! I would like to make a toast before we all stuff ourselves full of this food.
He stands and raises his glass of whiskey, Asuka at his side.
Han Solo: I have a bad feeling about this...
Spawn: I thought I would not be able to eat this meal, I was so depsondent over He-Man ripping my cape. But there are ways to get over things. A little action from Asuka here didn't hurt....
He-Man (his mouth full of food): You bastards! Do you have to announce it?
Spawn: You know, He-Man, they say revenge is a dish best served cold, but I would much rather serve it hot.
He-Man: What the hell does that mean?
Spawn (mimicing He-Man): Has anyone seen Battlecat?
He-Man and everyone else stop chewing, stop talking and look up at Spawn, forks in midair. Spawn cackles.
Spawn: Enjoying the meat, He-Man?
He-Man (staring down at his plate in horror) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Chaos ensues. Everyone is either puking or running out of the room. He-Man faints. And Boba Fett calmly sits and passes himself some more meat.
Buddy Christ: Another Thanksgiving shot to hell.[other action figure posts here] That's it for me today - we've got Christmas lights to hang while the weather is still cooperating and a birthday to celebrate.
the story of david, on his first birthday
Several years ago, in the courthouse I work in (I was not working there yet at the time), an employee found the lifeless body of a newborn infant in a bathroom stall. One of the emergency workers who responded to the scene, Tim Jaccard, was so moved by the scene that he was motivated to start the AMT Children of Hope Foundation, a group which went on to found Safe Havens. Safe Havens are hospitals, private homes and houses of worship throughout Long Island that have drop-off points for women who have given birth, but for various reasons do not want to keep the babies. These are infants that may otherwise have been abandoned in restrooms or dumpsters, left for dead. Tim comes into this story again later.
My sister and her husband tried for many years to have a baby. When it became apparent that they were suffering from infertility, they sought medical help. They went through many tries at in-vitro fertilization, which is a physically and emotionally straining process. It never worked for them. They went through years of testing, experiments and physical procedures to try and conceive. They got to a point where they realized that it was just not going to happen for them. This is when they decided to try and adopt.
They first went to Catholic Charities, because my cousin adopted three children through them. They were turned down because my brother-in-law is Jewish. Nevermind that they are financially stable, own their own home, can provide a stable, loving environment for a child, and promised to raise the child Catholic. It wasn't good enough for them. Catholic Charities was a dead end.
They tried posting their number in colleges and on internet message boards made specifically for that purpose. Lots of phone calls, more dead ends.
One day my sister was talking to her friend Mary about her and her husband's frustration. Turns out Mary is Tim Jaccard's secretary. Mary put my sister in touch with Tim and the wheels began turning.
There were more dead ends at first. A young girl who decided to give her baby to someone else. A woman who, at the last minute, decided to keep her baby. That one was at Christmas time, and my sister had announced to us on Christmas Eve that they would be getting a baby. Two days later, the woman said no. And how can you be mad at that, really? She wanted to keep and raise her baby and that's a good thing, despite the pain it brought to my family. My sister and her husband made the decision that they would not tell anyone the next time there was hope for a baby. They would wait until the baby was born, the papers were signed and then and only then would they spread the news.
Cut to last December. I was sitting at my desk at work, when my sister (who works with me) came into my office looking pale. She was shaking. She had just received a phone call from Tim. There was a baby boy, born on November 20th and the mother, an illegal immigrant who had just come here from Burma, did not want this baby. She was ready and willing to sign papers giving him up. My sister and her husband had known about this woman since the baby was born, but said nothing to any family member, remembering what happened the last time. But now she had to tell me because Tim said on the phone to be ready to be a mother in two days. Two days. After years of waiting and hoping and being disappointed, she had two days to get ready for a baby. She was to leave work immediately and head to to the woman's apartment in Queens, where Tim was waiting for my sister and her husband to meet the mother. The mother wanted to see them first, to know who she was giving her baby up to. I walked my sister out to her car and wished her luck. As soon as she was gone, I broke a promise I made and called my mother.
Two hours later, my mother and I were in Target, spending a small fortune on baby supplies. Clothes, diapers, bottles and every accessory both useful and extravagant, were bought. By the time we got home, my father, who cannot keep a secret to save his life, had told every relative within shouting distance. Basically meaning everyone in town. Friends and family kept pulling up to the house, dropping off supplies. A bassinet. Enough diapers to last a month. More clothes, baby blankets, crib sheets. There were moments where we felt like we were jinxing the whole thing, pusing our luck, but we decided to test fate and stock up anyhow. Any woman who has ever had a child will tell you nine months is barely enough time to get everything ready. Imagine only having two days to prepare. We figured it was better to have this stuff ready for her than to have nothing ready at all, and have to run out that day to buy all the things they would need.
Sometime that night my sister called and said it was definite. The baby was theirs. He would be delivered to their home, by Tim, the next night. She still wouldn't believe it, wouldn't talk in definite tones until the baby was in her arms. Can you blame her?
The next day was a frenzy. There were still so many things to get, so many people to call. My sister was frantic, her husband was neurotic. By 9pm, there were 20 people, friends and family, sitting in their living room waiting for David. We had champagne ready. Finally, Tim pulled up at around 10pm. My sister freaked out and wouldn't go to the door. She was afraid Tim would be standing there empty handed, come to bring the bad news that the woman had changed her mind. I looked out the window and saw Tim lifting a little baby out of a car seat. I shoved my sister towards the front door and told her to chill out. And Tim walked in, held out David, and put him in my sister's waiting arms. There was not a dry eye in the house. My father was crying, the neighbors were crying. I thought my sister and her husband were both going to pass out. They held him and stared at him for the longest time and nobody moved, nobody talked. Finally, someone popped the cork on a champagne bottle and we all cheered. For the next hour, David was passed from person to person and we all stared in wonder at the baby we had waited so long for.
David is a year old now. Not a day goes by that I don't look at him and think about the birth mother he has out there somewhere, and I wonder if she knows what she gave up. I look at his engaging smile and listen to his loud laugh and kiss his soft little cheeks and I wonder. I see my sister and her husband with their child and I am so happy for them, and so thankful that Tim Jaccard afforded them this opportunity, that this adorable child was not abandoned in a dumpster in the dark of night because the mother had no one to turn to.
So happy first birthday, David. You are a lucky boy. You had a selfless, caring birth mother who made a choice that was hard for her and right for you. And you ended up in the arms and hearts of two people who will give you a lifetime of love.
Dear Holiday Grouches,
I am an atheist. I don't celebrate the birth of Christ, I don't believe in the Virgin Mary. Yet, I love Christmas. My kids are Catholic, my family is Catholic and I think of Christmas as time to share my love and imitation wealth with those I love. Good cheer, good times.
It upsets me that so many of you are making a bad name for all atheists, agnostics and non-Jesus believers. You write letters to the town council, to your legistlators, to the editor of the local paper and you complain about some plastic statues in front of the post office or library or any other publicly-maintained building.
What is that you find so offensive about a nativity scene? I hardly think that a piece of plastic that represents Mary and Joseph, a few animals and a baby will turn your children into Catholics overnight. We aren't talking Jack Chick here. There are no signs on these little stables that say "Become a Catholic or Die!"
Back when I was young (walk, snow, downhill both ways, etc.) I was in the school chorus. For our holiday spectacular we song both Oh, Holy Night and The Dreidel Song. Nobody made a fuss about it. No letters were written. My principal did not have to appear on CNN defending himself.
What has happened to this world that so many of you are offended by signs of religion? Does it harm you in any way to see Mary kneeling in front of the post office? Are there beacons of light shining out of Joseph's eyes, beckoning your young ones to receive the body of Christ? Does a menorah hold some mystical power so it sends out a secret signal that directs you to a Temple? How can candles be offensive? It's not like each nativity comes with a sign that says My God is Better Than Your God!
It's the holiday season. Yes, it's the Christmas season, but with merchants and retailers setting up their winter wonderlands at the end of October and not taking them down until January, the season now encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and New Year's.
It's a great time of year, which you would find out if you stopped being so pissed off at everyone. People are cheery. Towns are lit up in beautiful lights and the telephone poles are strung with garland and if you are lucky, it snows just a bit, just enough to lend a feel of authenticity to the season. There are parties with spiked eggnog and trees adorned with colors and stars and angels. Houses glow brighter each night as another candle on the menorah is lit.
Yet there you are, hunkered down in your basement, writing another letter to another congressman, demanding that action be taken against the library director who had the audacity to hang Christmas and Hannukah decorations in the children's room. You're busy picketing in front of the school that is putting on a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas because it's too overtly religious. Here's an idea: stop your letter writing campaign, stop bothering politicians who have more pressing issues to deal with and go find some holiday cheer. Even if you find it in the bottom of a bottle of rum.
And it's not just you anti-nativity people that bother me. It's the anti-capitalism crowd as well. Stop making the holidays about your issues. Like the damn Canadians who erected a giant sign that read Gluttony. Envy. Insincerity. Greed. Enjoy Your Christmas. Get over yourselves. I'll go about spreading comfort and joy to my family and friends while you hang around with your humorless, cheerless selves and toast the Grinch. Hell, even the Grinch came around after a while.
There are people in this world who think it is their calling in life to complain about everything. They find no joy in a kid opening an X-Box on Christmas morning. They find nothing wonderful at the sight of new fallen snow gathering around Mary and Joseph's feet as worshipers file out of midnight mass. You are one of these people. You are a joyless, bitter, antagnostic grinch. Do us all a favor and hibernate from Halloween until New Year's. Let us enjoy our holidays in peace, without people like you trying to take the beauty and wonder away from us.
Thank you.[See also, Dustbury]
My friend Todd and I will often exchange emails during the day with various writing exercises, just fun little things meant to keep us writing creatively. Today's exercise consisted of taking some of my husband's art and doing "flash fiction" from the pictures. We set the limit at 200 words for each painting.
It was all going well until we got to Twig and then I couldn't help myself. I ended up writing a whole short-short instead of just 200 words. Please keep in mind that this is all off-the-cuff, stream of consciousness writing that was written in less than twelve minutes. Totally unplanned and unplotted, unedited and un-proofread and in no way should it be taken as a hint towards my mental state at the moment. Todd thought I should share it and sharing makes the world go round, so here it is. The pic that's included is the one on which the story is based. Clickable.
You Sleigh Me (for lack of a better title)
He hated sitting for the yearly portrait. It was always the same; thirty minutes of excruciating stillness that resulted in a painting that looked exactly like the one from the year before and the year before that and so on. When he looked at the pictures - which he couldnít help but do as they lined the hallway that took him from hearth to sleigh - he never saw himself. He only saw a slightly bloated, dress up version of what he looked like over two hundred years ago or more. This year, he would break the boring, phony tradition.
They all gasped when he walked into the portrait studio. The elves, the maidens, the portrait painter himself, they let out a collective gasp, as if he had walked in wielding a bloody butcher knife and holding Rudolphís severed head.
ďS.C.! Why are you not ready? Where is your suit? Your boots?Ē Patricia, his assistant had flittered across the room nervously to greet him. She was now whispering all this in his ear, clearly agitated.
ďI donít want to dress up this year.Ē He spoke quietly, though through gritted teeth and Patricia got the message that he was serious.
ďBut S.C., the Board will throw a fucking fit if we send out the annual card with you looking like this.Ē
ďI donít give a ratís ass about the Board, Tricia. I just donít want to wear that stupid fucking hat. It makes my scalp sweat. And rest of the suit makes me itch all over. I broke out in hives last year, Tricia, remember that? Forty fucking doses of Benadryl. I want for just one year to sit for a portrait without having to scratch my ass for an hour afterwards.Ē
Santa imagined that he now knew what all the little boys and girls Ďround the world felt like when their parents made them dress up for family Christmas pictures. He made a mental note to send out a memo that a resolution should be drafted requiring all children to wear jeans, t-shirts and dirty sneakers for their next holiday portrait. Stuffy parents be damned.
Tricia was crowding Santaís space and sighing heavily. He pushed her out of the way and headed for the big chair, where he plopped himself down and looked around impatiently. Patricia recovered from the rude slight her boss gave her and sauntered over to the hand-picked painter for this year, a young, smug art student wearing a shirt depicting Che Guevara wearing Santaís cap. S.C. chuckled to himself and made a mental note to take a piss under the young artistís tree this Christmas Eve. Patricia whispered something to Che guy. He shook his head profusely. He stamped his foot. S.C. walked over to the couple.
ďIs there a problem, Tricia?Ē He was half growling, half talking.
ďMr. Russell was looking forward to painting the jolly guy in the red suit.Ē She looked directly at S.C., her eyes narrow slits. ďBut looks like heís a no show this year.Ē
The room went silent. All eyes turned on the trio of S.C., Patricia and the smug artist known as Mr. Russell. Patricia did her best to smile, but she knew she made a grave mistake in talking to S.C. the way she did. She breached her contract. She broke the rules. She signed her own exit plan, with just a few words and a sarcastic tone.
S.C. latched onto Patriciaís waist-length ponytail and yanked. Patricia fell to the ground with a yelp. Mr. Russell, looking not nearly so smug anymore, bent down and made a move to help the fallen assistant, but changed his mind when several elves started shaking their heads at him. When Mr. Russell stood upright again, S.C., punched him square in the face. Blood immediately poured out of the artistsís nose, running over his lips, down his chin and neck and dribbling onto his t-shirt where the drops splattered like rain on Cheís face. S.C. smiled broadly and walked toward the window, where he stared at the falling snow as if this were just another mundane moment in his life and the lives of everyone in the room.
ďDispose of her and find a replacement,Ē he said to no one in particular, yet several people went into motion at once. ďChe boy, paint my picture. Just like this.Ē He continued to stare out the window, contemplating an existence where he would continue to live up to peopleís expectations of him for thousands more years.
When the portrait was done, Mr. Russell stood shaking in fear, worried that Santa wouldnít like the painting very much and he would soon be joining Patricia as food for the ravenous wolves Santa kept as pets. But Santa gave a little, quarter-smile when he saw the painting. He imagined it hanging in the long hallway, currently adorned with years of portraits that were nothing more than mirror images of each other. It would be an end of sorts, he knew.
That evening, he hung the new painting next to the generic, jolly old Santa of last year, went into his bathroom, slit his wrists, and hummed Christmas Carols until he bled to death.
All the text herein is copyright © 2004 Michele Catalano. All rights reserved. All art herein is copyright © 2004 Justin Brejwo. All rights reserved.
I just love the smell of overreaction in the morning. Smells like....hysteria.
A few bloggers are raising the red flag and screaming in hysterics about a proposed program to shove bottles of poison down the throats of babies in order to turn up the profit margin for companies like Dow and Exxon. Apparently, this program, sponsored by the EPA and headed up by Bush cronies, will have low income parents sacrificing the future health of their children all for some cash, a t-shirt and a cam corder.
Oh, wait. That's not what's happening at all. Gee, you would think that people would do a little bit of research before going off all chicken little and claiming that the government is going to wantonly spray toddlers with pesticides in some bizarre biological experiment.
The program is called CHEERS - Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) to better understand how young children come into contact with pesticides and other chemicals in their homes. Children can come into contact with various chemicals in their homes through the air they breathe, food they eat and the surfaces they touch.
Ok, so they are not spraying down the kids with hoses bursting with poison?
Participants are not required to use pesticides or to change any of their regular household routines or how they normally use bug sprays (pesticides).
Do we understand how this works now? No one is asking people to submit their children to experiments. No one is forcing Ajax down a baby's throat. See what happens when you actually read, digest and think before you react? You come up with the truth, rather than some shrill, panicky screed about how the big bad Republicans don't want you to have an abortion, but they'll drown your babies in chemicals on purpose. And give you a t-shirt in return!
Is there any risk to me and my family?
No. You and your child will not experience any risks from participating in this study.We will not ask any parent to apply pesticides in their home to be a part of this study.
You are not required to change any of your regular household routines.
Please, spare us the images of poverty-stricken babies being held feet over toxic fire while their poor parents look on and the CEO of Dow rubs his hands in glee. You've got the picture all wrong and what's sad is, you know it. In fact, someone left a link to the CHEERS site in the comments of one of the bloggers and lo and behold, it was deleted. It's called fact checking, kids and it would have saved you from another bout of righteous anger. But you go ahead and sign that petition. After all, it's For The Children©.
Update: Thanks to Hubris for the link to this WaPo article. Basically, if you sign that petition, you are against protecting future children against the poison in your teflon pans! You are terrible, terrible people!
My spam is better than Bill's spam.
A blonde apprehend was driving along the tousle when a electrician police accompanist pulled her betelgeuse for congo.
centrifugal: May i see your heavenward?
algebraic: what does it look eradicate?
risky: its a pile thing with a digging of you on it.
The goldfinch looks shabby her ignition and beebe out her breadfruit allegheny and hands it to the officer.
The electrocardiogram opens it up and says if you had metabole me you were a decompression circumspect I wouldn't have nihilist you over.
I wonder what the joke was supposed to look like?
1995. Or 96. I was still married then, and it was fall, but still felt like summer. The summer had been odd, to say the least. We spent a week or two of August with a blonde psuedo-actress/celebrity who shall remain nameless here, but who is easily identifiable by the stature of her breasts and her hips and by the fortunes of her now dead, but then elderly and frail, husband and whom we shall call "A" so as not to place me in the path of people searching google for naked pictures of this model/B-movie actress/celebrity. And no, I have none.
I was, through marriage, related to the person who directed A in several of her stellar theatrical endeavors. This person also "kept the company" of A, if you know what I mean, and when he came to visit his family this summer, he brought the starlet along with him.
There are several stories I could tell you about the week or so that the wannabe-diva was here, but I won't. Not now. But I will tell you about when she returned for a visit in the fall. You should keep in mind that during the August week she was here, her hosts and their family had gone from star struck to scornful in one fell swoop.
It was September, maybe two weeks after school started. My then husband's grandfather had gone missing and the next week his body turned up in a dumpster in the Bronx. It was, obviously, a difficult time for the family. We set about the business of planning a funeral and everything that entails. The relative in California, A's director, was called. He was told to come for the funeral of his father. But not to bring A with him. This wasn't the time nor the place for her histrionics.
The next day he arrives, with A in tow. She wouldn't miss this for the world, she says, as if it were a premiere of a movie. After all, he was like a father to her, too. Yes, right. Because she knew him all of one month. And spent about 20 hours total in person with him during that time. He was so like a father to her.
So the day of the wake comes. Italian wakes are dramatic and overwrought enough without half-witted celebrities in attendance. Especially half-witted celebrities who seem to have taken a little too much of their medication. She struts into the funeral home, dressed for the Oscars but apparently naked in the class department. She's carrying on about something and my ex's parents ask her to please wait in the sitting area while the wake is going on. They do not want her inside the room where the service is being held. She sullenly plops herself in a chair out in the hallway, pouting and petulant and waiting for the people strolling in to recognize her.
Later, I come out of the ladies room and I notice that A, still sitting and pouting in the chair, seems to be talking to herself in a soothing tone. And she's stroking her coat. I stare at her quizzically for a moment and then go back into the room where the wake is being held. I casually mention A's odd behavior to some family members and someone remarks that at least she's being a good sport by staying out there.
And with that comment, the doors to the room swing open and A walks in with a sweeping gesture and stands there, waiting to be noticed and admired. When no one stands up to applaud her entrance, she saunters her way towards the coffin, flipping her hair as she walks. She gets to the coffin, looks down at the man she barely knew yet whom was apparently a father figure to her, turns her head to make sure she has our rapt attention, and begins to wail. She's incoherent, crying, sobbing, and there is not a person in the room who doesn't know that it is all an act. We've seen her movies. We know bad acting when we see it. Suddenly she puts the back of her hand up to her forehead, 50's movie star style, and falls to the floor in a faint. No one moves to help her. She lays there, hand still on forehead, skirt hiked up, a spectacle on display. Finally, the director/relative comes over, picks her up and walks her out to the chair in the hallway.
The service continues. We sit there quietly, talking in hushed tones to people who come to offer their condolences. Every once in a while, when it becomes very, very quiet, we hear a squeaking sound. At first, I think it's a child crying. Someone else thinks it's a person with new, squeaky shoes. Maybe a mouse? We can't figure it out, but it stops and starts until it gets irritating enough for us to go investigate. We follow the sound of the squeak out of the wake room, into the hallway, right to the .....chair. The chair where A is sitting. And she's sitting there, talking to herself again and petting herself, and I realize it's not a squeak we were hearing at all, but a yip. Rising out of A's coat like a beast coming from her breasts is the head of a poodle. A tiny, toy poodle yipping away at us.
She brought her dog to a funeral. No one says anything, no one bothers to explain to her why we are mad, because just the fact that she doesn't understand our anger or bewilderment speaks volumes.
I haven't seen her since. By the end of that year I was separated from my husband, and his family, and I never had to deal with her again. Once in a while, a movie of hers will show up on cable at 3am and I'll get a good chuckle out of her acting, because I've seen her best piece of work and it's not on film.
Blankets by Craig Thompson, Top Shelf Comix, 592 pages.
I've long been a proponent of the graphic novel as literature (see here, here and here). Too often, graphic novels are cast off as nothing more than kid stuff, pronounced so be people who say the word comics with a sneer.
The reviews for Thompson's Blankets were nothing short of superlative. Perhaps this book, combined with the success of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, will finally give graphic novels their due.
What sets Corrigan and Blankets apart from other GN's like Sandman, is these stories were not serialized before being set into graphic novel form. They are books, in the truest sense of the world.
Blankets, for a 500+ page book, is quick reading. That's not because the pages are mostly art and word bubbles, which get you through a book faster than a word-only tome. No, it's because once you start on Thompson's journey through his childhood and adolescence, you are transfixed by the beauty and wonder of both the words and pictures. You don't want to put it down and, like any good book should make you feel, you don't want it to end.
Thompson's documentation of his younger years is at once suffocating as it is gorgeous. The images of constant, heavy snow and the presence of constant, heavy-handed religion give the story a weighty, ominous tone, made even more pronounced by the theme of dependence that runs through the book.
Thompson is able to take the darker themes and intertwine them with the wistful, bittersweet yearnings of first love. He captures the very essence of this rite of passage, from the first unsure glances to the breathlessness of being consumed by the fire in your heart.
The drawings are simple and delicate; Thompson is able to convey emotions so well that one panel can introduce a thousand words in your mind, almost making text unecessary. But the text that accompanies the art never comes off as redundant or obvious; Thompson creates art within art, using his words to enhance, rather than accompany, the drawings. Or is is the other way around? Perhaps the drawings are there to enhance the words.
Either way, it all makes for a beautiful, poignant story. Thompson pours his guts skillfully, spilling his fears, doubts and hopes about love, family, religion and himself on every page.
It's certainly literature and it's certainly art. The two should be free to flow together not just for children, but for adults who know the value of putting words and pictures together.
Craig Thompson is also the author of Goodbye, Chunky Rice.
There's a definite rumble coming. There's gangs lining up on every side; the terrorists here, the protesters there, the pro-war people, the Jew-haters, the Death To America crowd, the extremists and Bush haters; it's showdown time in the back alley! We've been dancing too long. The tension in the gym, all decorated with flags and anti-flags, depending on which side you are standing on, well, its become unbearable. We're gonna rumble like it's 1968.I followed that up a week later with this thought about the left: bq. They have become a large, swarming mass, making a giant buzzing sound, just waiting for a reason to go all out. An election year gives them that reason. In July of this year, I called what the U.S. was experiencing a social civil war: bq. Welcome to the social civil war, where we are all soldiers, all victims and all losers, no matter who wins the election. I was thinking this over last night and I realized that perhaps my prediction for an 1968 style uprising or a civil war wasn't totally off base; I just had my dates wrong. Ok, so the reality of civil war may be far-fetched, but the ideas are out there, floating around, making their way from obscure blogger to major media columnist. Secession is the word of the day. And while a few people on the right are diving headlong into this swamp of an idea, it's mostly being bandied about by the left. Jesusland, indeed. Papers like the Boston Herald and Newsday are letting their columnists entertain thoughts of civil war and secession. This is not something just being played out in the sewers of Democratic Underground. Secession is the new black! It's interesting to watch the red state/blue state gang fight heat up. I've already heard arguments over which side would have better health care and which side would be more economically stable. You may think it's the tree hugging hippies vs. the God-fearing fascists, but you'd be dead wrong about that. Hell, it's not even a blue v. red thing anymore, as the Northeast is now claiming superiority over the south, totally taking the west coast and the heartland out of the civil war equation. It can be mighty confusing and someone needs to make a scorecard to keep track of which state is joining which secession movement. I honestly thought the great divide would come before the elections were held. I thought we would lapse into a civil war sometime during the summer, complete with deathly riots and martial law. I assumed that once the election was over, no matter who won, the anger would subside as we got on with the business of getting our country in shape and sharpening our respective parties up for the great knife fight of 2008. Boy, was I wrong. The rage is only starting to heat up now. The whole past year it's just been set on simmer. Not only is no one turning the flame down, they've turned the gas up even higher. The thing is, I have no horse in the race. And that's what frightens me the most. While you would think it would be a good thing to just be an observer in this rumble, it's not. It's like standing in the middle of two bulldozers bearing down on you and having nowhere to go. You're an obstacle, a bump to be razed, a fly to be swatted. Where do people like myself go in this overblown gang fight? People like Michael Totten or Roger Simon, who do not define themselves as red or blue, tree hugger or God-fearer, north or south, heartland or LaLa land. Everyone seems to be moving to their side of the line, but I don't know where to go. It's not that I really want to pick a side. But it's strange feeling disinvited to both parties. If the right really wants to embrace the notion of Jesusland, even to a lesser extent, I'll be pushed out of the fold. I've already been pushed out of the left and although that was mostly of my own accord, the door still hit my ass on the way out. It's not easy being in the middle. You hear the slings and arrows buzz past you from both sides. While you're ducking the stones being thrown from the left, you get hit in the head with a bullet from the right. If I had to absolutely make a choice, if America was physically splitting down the middle and one side was blue and the other red, I think you know where I would go. The left has become too ugly, dark and dangerous to ever think of siding with them again. I've seen reasonable people slide so fast into the depths of vitriolic insanity that I they became unrecognizable within mere weeks. In a way, I'm astonished at what I see happening to this country post-election. Even though I predicted that it would become this ugly and divisive, I thought I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole most of the time. But it's here and it's real and it's out there. It's moved away from the blogosphere, away from the fringe elements that meet in dank basements making subversive flyers. It's out here in our daily newspapers, on our news shows, on the afternoon drive radio. So here we have the left engaging in mockery and ridicule, further alienating themselves from the rest of the world. That the two memes swarming the left - Jesusland and the notion of them being reality-based (as opposed to what?) - tells you something of their attitude towards the rest of you. But they aren't the only problem. Because now I'm suddenly a target not just for the left, but for the right. I'm being told I must fight the good fight, rethink my stance on gay issues, abortion, the definition of family and religion. I'm seeing the first hints of alienation. They got my war on terror vote. I was part of them for this whole election cycle, working side by side to get Bush elected. And now that the election is over, I've been given a put up or shut up demand. Bad enough to get the bullets from the opposing party, I'm now being eased out the door of my own. So what happens when the civil war takes place and the blue secedes from the red? Where do I go? Where does anyone like me go? Will it be like fifth grade gym class, with me standing on the sideline wondering if anyone will want me on their dodgeball team? It didn't really matter which team I was on, anyhow, as I had no friends at all. Everyone hated me. Wheee! It's fifth grade all over again, except this time, the fate of a nation is at stake. Please, let me just end up on the side with the stronger kids, then. Will we have to choose a side ourselves and just become a stranger in a strange land or do we find a small, unused island and just go there to wait it out while the unhinged fight it out with the moral crusaders? It's so easy to get caught up in all the anger-fueled adrenaline that's floating through the country right now. It would be so easy for me to just pick up a knife and join in the fight, even if the red guys aren't going to accept me wholly. But that's not what I want. That would make me no better than the great unhinged masses that are calling for assassination, dead soldiers, terrorist attacks, riots and civil war. They seem to be getting swept up in this hurricane of bile and violence and it's fascinating, if completely revolting, to watch. As much as my Republican compatriots are trying to drag me into their lair, at least they're not coming to a street fight with nuclear bombs. But, hey, whatever gets your point across, right? Means to an end and all that. Personally, I'd rather hang out with the folks in Jesusland than with people who think the idea of starving all red staters to death is funny. But that's just me. Anyhow, someone let me know when the sides are finally drawn up. I think I'd like very much to go back to just reading comic books and playing video games and letting people with less anxiety issues than I worry about the world. It's not like I can do a damn thing, anyhow, when I have no place to stand in this fight. * Further reading for your enjoyment. Update: For the comprehension impaired, I'm not saying that I think secession will ever be anything more than just bloated post-election braying. It's the cutting animosity rising out of the talk about it that worries me more. And more further reading here.
I've done it to myself again. I waited in giddy anticipation for you to show up last night. I was all dressed up and waiting to go. Oh, you showed up all right, but I think it would have been better for you to stand me up than to show up with five day old stubble and stinking like a homeless guy who had just peed himself for the fifth time today. You let me down again and I'm writing to finally say my good-bye.
Itís actually been a long time coming. Iíve just been in denial about it because I didnít want it to end. Itís been a wonderful affair, a grand ride on this roller coaster of love and laughs. I mean, weíve been together since 1987! Thatís the longest Iíve stayed in a relationship of this kind. Kudos to you for that, really. You put a lot of work into the early years and I canít blame you for wanting to hang on to the glory. I just wish you could see it from where I stand. Youíve gotten fat and ugly. You let yourself go.
I thought I would give you one last chance to get your act together before I made the big break. Alas, you have given me no choice but to finally detach from the last shreds of hope that were binding us together. I must let you go.
Last nightís effort was, in a word, lame. I thought you would wine and dine me and present me with expensive tokens and bent-knee hand kissing in an attempt to keep me as yours. It wasnít until about 9pm last night, after thinking about it for almost two years, that I allowed myself to come to grips with the reality that you are no longer what I want, nor need. You have become televisionís Tom Glavine, hanging around only because leaving on your own accord would be to admit that youíre past your prime.
Iíve had my longest, most arduous televison affair with you. I would sneak out of a family family functions just to be with you on Sunday evenings. Ah, the things we do for love. And then there are the things we do when that love becomes old and tired because only one person in the relationship is even trying anymore. And try I did.
Ok, Iíll admit that there are other shows that warm the spot you used to have in my bed. Yes, Iíve been fulfilling my lusty need for immature, animated humor elsewhere, courting Family Guy and other Adult Swim residents to satisfy me in ways you just canít anymore.
After last nightís performance, I donít feel any guilt in discarding you without so much as a farewell pity fuck. I'm no longer going to slip into bed with you, and I'm not letting you back in, even if you claim you just want your albums back. Iíve been fooled by you before.
Weíll always have the past seventeen years. Iíll be happy to reminisce with repeats every night at 6 and 6:30 pm, reliving the glory days like a woman masturbating to memories of a long gone lover. I know youíre planning on putting out for at least three more years, but this is one lover of yours that wonít be dropping trou for you.
Good luck, Simpsons, and thanks for the good times.
I haven't heard any of the postelection commentators talk about ignorance and its effect on the outcome. It's all values, all the time. Traumatized Democrats are wringing their hands and trying to figure out how to appeal to voters who have arrogantly claimed the moral high ground and can't stop babbling about their self-proclaimed superiority. Potential candidates are boning up on new prayers and purchasing time-shares in front-row-center pews.Perhaps the author of that piece, Bob Herbert, and all those who subscribe to his beliefs should take a look at the stats here and check out the swing voter constituent. Funny how those of us who voted for Nader or Gore last time around are now considered too stupid to breathe. What a difference four years makes. And I wonder if the Dems aren't being willfully ignorant in glossing over the other mitigating factors in their loss, the most blatant being that John Kerry was just not electable material. No one is talking about swing voters, the war on terror voters, security moms, first time voters. All we are hearing is how the moral majority sunk their claws into the too stupid to think for themselves hicks and brainwashed them into voting for a religious mandate that would sweep the nation and force us all to kneel down on Sunday and praise Jesus. And what do you get when you put the Christians and the rest of us idiots together? Why, you get the forces of darkness, marshaled in by the great Satan, Karl Rove. Wait. Dark forces? You mean we aren't going to spend the next four years going to church on Sundays and having potluck dinners where we discuss the declining morality of prime time television while our subservient Stepford children read from books on creationism? I'm confused. Are we headed for the rapture or the wrath of hell? In the above linked article, Maureen Dowd mentions that Bush's presidency will stir intolerance. Maureen doesn't know how right she is. In fact, it's already begun. Except the intolerance isn't sprouting out from where Ms. Dowd expects it. Instead, it's coming from the, oh so tolerant, all inclusive, for-the-people left. How else do you explain this? Suddenly, formerly sane blogger Layne and tons of other lefty bloggers are having a grand old time insulting, denigrating and slurring Christians. Just curious, but how do you think those lefty bloggers would feel if I spoke the same way about Muslims? Isn't the whole Jesusland concept just what they get on Charles at Little Green Footballs for when he takes on radical Muslims? Suddenly, the left side of the blogosphere is awash in mass hysteria about how those religious white folks with their bibles and their homophobia are going to destroy your lives. What makes this any different than when a right bloggers says that Islam is the "Religion of Peace" in a sarcastic manner? If I wrote half what these guys are writing about Christians about Muslims, I would be inundated with accusations of bigotry and blind hate. And guess what? Those hurling the accusations at me would claim I was following the lead of the great crowd of ignorant conservatives, that I'm a sheep, a mindless drone who has fallen for propaganda. But look at yourselves. Your guy lost the election so now it's ok to behave in a manner you once found ugly? Now it's ok to be the party of exclusion, to think you are morally and intellectually superior to one specific religious group or culture and to show that contempt in blatant form? Don't even attempt to crowd the comments here with the "but look at what Blogger X said" crap. I don't care what anyone on the right is saying right now because I am addressing specific issues here: How the Democrats, the left, the liberals, whatever they want to call themselves, have suddenly decided it's ok to pass around the jugs filled with smug hatred, to lick their lips as they drool the slobbering bigotry all over themselves, to become everything they always claimed they weren't. Healing? Coming together? Uniting? Forget it. Raw hatred and fear of those who have different moral issues than you is where it's at. Let me reiterate again, before the trolls kick in: I'm no pro-lifer, I'm an atheist and pro gay marriage. Yet, oddly, I'm not afraid that a group of holy rollers is going to knock down my door, put a lock on my uterus, force me to pray and make me read Jack Chick tracts about the gay agenda. Maybe that ignorance finger is being pointed in the wrong direction. ---- More on the Jesusland myth here. And more fresh commentary plus linky goodness here.
It bothered me at first when Grandpa started talking in fantasy, telling us about trips he never really talk and conversations he had with dead relatives. It's hard to watch someone you love slowly lose their grip on reality.
Today, Grandpa told us what he did last night. Apparently, he went to the Yankee game with his old Brooklyn buddies, most of whom are dead. I watched as my mother effortlessly conversed with him about this fictional game, asking him questions about it, wanting to know if the Yankees won or not. According to Grandpa, the Yanks won the world series last night.
And then an epiphany. Why should it bother me when Grandpa talks about things only happen in his head? That's Grandpa's happy place, where he goes to relive the good parts of his life with the friends and family that shared all of his happy memories. It makes him smile. It makes my mother smile. And now, it makes me smile. As long as Grandpa is happy for the little time he has left, then let him think that the Yankees win the world series every single night, and he's always there.
Happy birthday, Grandpa. And enjoy your "trip" to Brooklyn tonight.--- Hope I get to do this again next year.
Noticing something interesting.
I'm still diving into the sewer of DU, even though the election is over. It's interesting, in a morbid sort of way, to see how these people behave when faced with their loss.
But I am noticing a sort of divide among the inhabitants of DU. There have been some angry, bitter and downright disgusting threads on that site in the past two days, like this one with the poll asking if 9/11 was more depressing than the election (guess which one is winning?) and this one, about a missing preacher whose wife was found decapitated.
Some of the comments are beyond ugly. Lots of laughter at the fate of this family and "the more the merrier" attitude that, because these people were religious, they must be Bush supporters and, well, good riddance to rubbish.
On both these threads, many of the veteran DU posters (those with 1000+ posts) are asking their brethren to stop their messages of hate, or are horrified at what their cohorts are saying.
Those that do talk down the hate and rage are attacked by everyone else. Let the healing begin? Not likely. I think their are wounds within the left that are just beginning to open.
I wonder now what is going to happen to the left. Have a good portion of them had enough of the bitterness and hatefulness? And are a portion of them sliding further towards the edge, revving up the hate? I do wonder if there will be a split of sorts, with some of them going on to work towards something better and the rest left wallowing in their own stink. I further wonder which side will have greater numbers.
Alternately, I wonder what will happen to the right, in the same vein. Will those of us who look for a complete separation of church and state drift apart from those who want to legislate morality and rule with religion in mind? Will the Republicans who support gay rights and a woman's right to choose branch off into their own faction?
I've already seen the fallout starting, with people questioning my (and others) dedication to the Republican party because I'm not swallowing the pill whole. Politics is not an all or nothing proposition. I'm a some from column A, some from column B kind of person. The fact that I'm an atheist with socially liberal tendencies is clearly giving some people pause for concern, as if I am going to now become a detriment to the party. They got what they wanted from me - in my vote - and now they can discard me because I won't follow the fold all the way down the line.
Four days ago, all of my negative email came from folks on the left. Interesting now that Bus has won, some people from my own party are taking the liberty to email me or leave comments telling me that if I don't follow their lead towards what they consider a moral mandate, I am worth nothing to them.
We need to be careful of the direction our party will now take. Alienation of those who did not vote with moral values as their core belief will only serve to break the party in half. We won the election. If we start off by swinging swords at the necks of those who oppose the idea of church and state , we will only spite ourselves in the end. We need to find ways to work together, not ways to make a victory a weapon of divisiveness.
Honestly, I don't believe that we are moving towards some sort of religious dictatorship. I'm quite confident that in the next four years, I will not be given chance to doubt my vote for the president. But it still wouldn't hurt for a dialogue to begin between those of us on the left and on the right who don't tend towards the edges of our respective parties. We also need to figure out how we can become cohesive units within our own party rather than a disoraganized swarm of attack dogs. It's for the good of our country's future that we all learn how talk to our own without talking down or further breaking down the political dialogue amongst ourselves. We're gloating about the meltdown of the left, but from what I see personally, we're heading towards a minor meltdown ourselves that, if left unchecked, will be the demise of us in 2008.
Just some stream of conscious thoughts for a Saturday morning, unedited, not proofread and suffering from the writer's lack of caffeine.
Update: Whoa, chill out, people. I'm not in any way saying that I suddenly think DU is a place of moderation and tolerance. I was just wondering if there are more than a few veterans of that place who have had enough.
How interesting, Democrats watching the election results at a high-rise hotel in midtown Manhattan commented, that the rest of America thinks it understands terrorism better than we do. New York bore the brunt of 9/11 yet CNN's exit poll found that New Yorkers considered Iraq a bigger issue than terrorism when casting their votes for president. Midwesterners and southerners felt the opposite, motivated by fear of the unknown--literally, as they are neither likely targets of terrorism, nor did they feel or smell the horrors of that terrible day. Ranking terrorism their number one concern, they nevertheless supported an incumbent for whom the war on terrorism is nothing more than a marketing slogan.......Terrorism? Please, if you live in Mississippi or Colorado or Alaska, don't presume to talk about, much less cast your vote based upon, your "views" of Islamist terrorism. New Yorkers don't lecture you about hunting. Butt out of our business. Or at least have the grace to follow the lead of New York City voters if, contrary to history or logic, terrorism is your number one concern. [...] The day after a shady election handed to a maniacal buffoon, New Yorkers whose dead remain scandalously unavenged were in the streets. Civil strife, rage, the fight for decency and democracy--they were nowhere to be found.The arrogance of the left in all its shining light. Since when is terrorism only an issue to those who have suffered from it? Do you have to live through a terrible thing in order to fear that terrible thing? Is it necessary to have the acrid smell of death cling to your clothes in order to want to fight the very thing that caused it? Have you ever read these stories? They are the voices of 9/11; over one hundred people - most of them not New Yorkers - who did not need to be standing at the foot of the towers in order to understand what terrorism is and what it does to a country. The people in the Midwest are Americans. Terrorism perpetrated on American soil or interests - whether it be in New York or Yemen, greatly affects all Americans. Terrorism? Please, if you live in Mississippi or Colorado or Alaska, don't presume to talk about, much less cast your vote based upon, your "views" of Islamist terrorism. New Yorkers don't lecture you about hunting. Butt out of our business. And they call us ignorant? Here he compares hunting to a terrorist attack that kills thousands. Tell us, Ted. How does elk hunting compare to people hunting? It doesn't. Two towers crumbling to the ground in New York profoundly affects an entire country and all if its people. A deer falling dead in the woods of Colorado? Need I go on? And this is what I keep hearing from my fellow New Yorkers. The people outside of New York and D.C. who voted with the war on terror in mind are idiots and fools who were brainwashed by a chimpanzee and his mind-melding sidekick. Apparently, only Democrats have the power to withstand the forces of Karl Rove and his subliminal messages. Only Democrats are smart enough to see through Bush's mask and recognize the devil that lurks beneath. Only people who voted for Kerry are really smart enough to deserve a vote. The rest of us - especially New Yorkers who voted for Bush - are Stepford simpletons who fell victim to a slick ad campaign,. We are hordes of zombies, and only the blue state heroes can save us from eating our own. I'm furious at a lot of things today. Now that I've had time to digest all the emails and comments, time to read all the articles and listen to all the whinging, I'm taken aback by how aggressively the Anybody But Bush coalition is pursuing the "You are Dumb" retort. But why should I be surprised? Look at some of the agendas of the left and their cohorts and you'll see that message has been in play all along. From animal activists to the tree huggers, to the P.C. police, they've been talking down to us in the morally superior way for ages now. The results of this election has just opened the Pandora's box of insults a bit wider. That cool breeze you feel is the rush of a thousand ad hominem attacks rushing by you as they whip their way around the country. Every little breeze seems to whisper sleaze. Besides, which is it guys? Did Bush win by "unleashing an army of fundamentalist Christians across the red heartland" or did he win because the stupid people that don't live in New York think they have a right to want to fight the war on terror? Was it the theo-zombies or the terror zombies that did you in? Getting back to the dumb Republican New Yorkers and their out of state counterparts (self included), here's the kicker from Ted: The day after a shady election handed to a maniacal buffoon, New Yorkers whose dead remain scandalously unavenged were in the streets. Civil strife, rage, the fight for decency and democracy--they were nowhere to be found. Unavenged? Would voting in Kerry - I'm sorry, voting out Bush - somehow avenge those deaths? Kerry's kinder, gentler war on terror, his mysterious plan to battle terrorism, his law enforcement ways of dealing with terrorists - just how would they "avenge" the dead? Even if bin Laden were shackled up behind bars, bunk mating with Saddam, the dead would not be avenged. The war on terror has a long way to go and I voted for Bush precisely for that reason, because I trust him in this war more than Kerry. And you know what? I know plenty of family and friends of 9/11 victims who did just the same. I know firefighters who did just the same. Long Island may look blue all over, but, like the denizens of Whoville, we are here. 589,000 of us. We are not idiots. We are your teachers. We are your lawyers. We fix your cars and tend to your sick children. We own businesses and we pump your gas. We are the neighbors who smile and wave at you or lend you tools. We are the people you play cards with, the people who drive your children to school. And now, we are stupid. We are idiots. Just because we don't think like you or vote like you. Can we still be trusted to deal the next hand at poker night or fill your car with unleaded? Will you still talk to us about baseball and football or sit next to us at the next PTA meeting? Or do we all have a case of the stupid cooties and now is your time to make the run from us, separate yourselves from the idiots who don't think like you? Don't be afraid to sit next to me at the movie theater. I promise I won't cram my religious manifesto down your throat. Because, well, I don't have one. Don't look at me like that, it's true. But how, you say, how can a person who does not practice a Christian like religion vote for Bush? You must be dumber than I thought! Well, this election was personal for me. I acted selfishly and took into major consideration what was most important to me, alone, as an American. It wasn't gay rights, of which I am a supporter. It wasn't abortion. It wasn't the definition of family. No, it was that ugly little word, war, partnered with its ugly big brother, terrorism. I did not act in the best interest of my gay friends. I did not act in the best interest of Planned Parenthood. I acted in my own, selfish interest and I do believe - and the results show - that I'm not the only one with that very interest at heart. This is probably the last time I will write about my reasons for voting the way I did. I owe you no more an explanation than you owe me. I don't have to respond to, especially, the emails that read like an exam, with numbered questions that I am "required" to answer. Yes, I am serious. My basic reply is to answer their questions with a question of my own: Dear sir, why do you think this is any of your business? Someone calls me an idiot and then they have the balls to ask me to take a forty question exam to prove to them I'm not stupid? Don't think so. Stupidity would lie in actually taking two hours out of my life to respond to a condescending, bitter emailer. For the record, I don't think that my fellow Americans who voted for Kerry are stupid. I think we just have different issues, place different value on different things and see the world in quite a different way. The Ted Ralls among us think that anyone not in New York can't understand Islamist terrorism. What an elitist thing to believe. What a load of self-important crap. I stand here looking at an inbox stuffed with emails from people who think that I am spitting on the graves of every person who died on 9/11 by supporting Bush. That, as a New Yorker, I should know better. I stand looking at a slew of articles that quote New Yorkers screaming at Midwesterners that they have no right to consider the war on terror an important issue. So, tables turn. Suddenly, 9/11 "belongs" to the New York Democrats. I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Ted himself thinks that almost everyone who died that day was a Democrat. Just because a state is blue on a map, Ted, does not mean that we, the red zombies, are not here. We are. We exist. And for the next four years Horton the elephant is watching over us. Update: To all those telling me Ted Rall doesn't matter, read again what I wrote. It's not just Rall saying these things. It's been all over the NYT, it's been on CNN, this is what the New York "elite" are shouting.