Wednesday, September 30, 2009

They'd Better Laugh At My Son - But NO Talking!

image fromShakespeare on Stage © 2008 Mark Brierley
click pic to see website

I usually respect my children's privacy when it comes to blogging, but I've been bursting to share this news for a couple of weeks now, and I am sufficiently weakened by the strain to allow a smidgen of information with you.





Whew. Glad for that release. I might have exploded otherwise.

I will give you a hint about which character he will be playing: At one point, he'll be dressed in yellow stockings. Cross-gartered ones, in fact.

I am so tickled for him. As many times as I've seen the play, I never thought, "yes, indeed, some day I'll have a wonderful, clever, handsome son who will act in that role."

It blows my mind.

In other news, I see that Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig are playing on Broadway. We saw the signs advertising the upcoming run of A Steady Rain when we visited New York this summer, and wished it was on then. I loved the story about Hugh's response to an audience member's ringing cell phone during one of his scenes. Right on, Hugh!

I would just like to put the world on notice that if anyone dares to talk or allow their cell phone to ring while my beloved child is on stage, I am going to go Wolverine on their ass.

Extradition - Not the most fun way to travel, but he's earned the trip

photo of 13 year old Samantha Geimer from

I've been thinking about this issue a lot, and I agree with Susan Jane Gilman.

How about you?

I've read that the victim has asked the court to drop the case. I feel bad for her and her family having to deal with the publicity. She seemed to think he should be held accountable in this interview a few years ago, and I think so too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Would I seek asylum in Canada? You betcha.

If you have one of these on your fridge, I won't be coming over for dinner.

This scares the bejeebers out of me.

It could happen.

The prospect may seem absurd to you, but I remember so well laughing with my high school friends about Ronald Reagan as a candidate. We weren't laughing on election night.

Palin clearly taps into the anti-intellectual sentiment in America. While President Obama is a smart, well-educated man, Dubya certainly didn't show himself to be any great thinker. It's almost like, in a perverse way, many Americans often favour electing a leader who doesn't appear to be as sharp as them. Is that the American dream? That anyone, no matter how humble their background, no matter how stupid or lazy or mean-spirited, can become president of our nation?

In the words of the late, great H.L. Mencken (who shall forevermore be pictured by me as Gene Kelly, who played him in Inherit the Wind):

No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Are you worried too?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Summer Vacation in Jeopardy?

Photo courtesy Nader Moussa

I don't know how I feel about this story.

You know that I like to drag my family around the country for many weeks during the summer.

But there are some really good reasons to rethink the way we do things. And if the powers that be compensate for longer school days/year round school by lengthening other breaks, I might be willing to support it.

I love to travel, but I hate to think that for two months, so many children are going without learning or even a decent meal while my children are enjoying museums and plays and good eats.

Must ponder this. What do you think?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Journeys Via Music Part 1: The Proclaimers

You know how hearing music can take you back to a certain time or place in your lifetime?

This post isn't about that.

But it would be a good topic some time; must file that for future reference.

This is more about how music can take you to places and times you've never been.

Last night, Professor X and I took the children out for some cultural edification. The marvelous Scottish band The Proclaimers was in town at the Aladdin Theatre, and we were ready for some fun rock and roll. We weren't disappointed.

I was thinking about how some of the songs they played took us on a little travel through time and space. Yes, of course there's the obvious one: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), in which they sing those memorable lyrics
da da da (da da da)
da da da (da da da)

Da Da Da Dun Diddle Un Diddle Un Diddle Uh Da

But also those surprisingly romantic ones

And if I grow-old,(When I grow-old) well I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

At the heart of The Proclaimers are identical twin brothers Craig and Charlie Reid. The pair began playing in punk bands whilst they were in school, and formed The Proclaimers 26 years ago at the tender age of 21. A cursory search about their personal life yielded a reference to the fact that they are each married and have seven children between the two of them. Hmm. Let me clarify that. The two of them didn't have seven children together. The article didn't say how many children Craig had with his wife and how many Charlie had with his. Just that there were seven offspring. Oh, for God's sake, you knew what I meant.

Anyway, they seem to be solid family men who are comfortable with their middle age status, who plan to grow old with their prospective spouses, which is a lovely thing. Don't think they're just boring goody two shoes, (or should I say goody four shoes?) though. One of the twins replied to an interviewer who asked "What would you walk 500 miles for?"

I loved the response: "To be in the Scottish cup final (laughs) or any of my kids, my mum, family, anything that you love! I actually like walking, but I don’t like it that fucking much."

Another site describes them as carving "out a niche for themselves in the netherworld where pop, folk, new wave and punk collide. Singing in regional accents about Scotland - its emigration and its politics, the band became a phenomenon overnight after signing to Chrysalis in 1987." Those "regional accents" are something else again. Often, when one of them spoke during last night's concert, we strained to understand them. Here's an interview with them - tell me if you don't find it a challenge as well. But it's worth the effort to listen. They have lots to say. And their music is great.

Their look is sort of a timeless one - geeky boys in glasses with guitars. They covered a hit that dated back to when the Reids were mere toddlers, King of the Road. Now that's a travelin' song! I love their pronunciation of some of the words. It cracks me up. We couldn't remain in our seats for that one. Fortunately, the Aladdin had anticipated the audience's need to bop to the music, so we scooted up by the stage and wiggled in time to the wonderful tune.

We traveled all over the Whole Wide World with the band, and then reflected on the link between their native land and ours with the lovely, haunting Letter from America. To be sure, these men are more than just good musicians who write love songs. They're political. We Forrests like that. The Guardian observed that Letter from America
is as sure-footed a treatise on patriotism as Billy Bragg ever conjured, its protagonist wondering as to the fate of transatlantic Scots émigrés while the country's industrial towns (Irvine, Linwood, Motherwell, etc) close down around him. It's that misty-eyed romanticism/bitter reality juncture that every Scots lyricist from Rabbie Burns to Bobby Gillespie knows well.
I only understand part of those references, but I think it's cool. I like political music. There's a great piece in The Telegraph about Craig and Charlie by Craig McLean. He writes:

...they're fiercely opinionated and, like any siblings, merrily diverge and bicker over the most minor points. I know this because a long time ago, I was their assistant manager.

And when I went to see the Sunshine On Leith musical in Edinburgh, I was powerfully reminded of Craig and Charlie's political, social and cultural convictions (they're socialist republicans who believe in an independent Scotland).

The musical, which may well play in English theatres next year, is nothing like the Queen, Madness or Boney M theatrical frivolities. It tells the story of two soldiers rebuilding their lives after returning from Afghanistan to Leith, the port area of Edinburgh to which the teenage Reids relocated after leaving their home in the Fife village of Auchtermuchty.

"Hearing your own songs being sung by different people was the most surreal thing I've ever experienced," says Craig. "And it was emotional a couple of times, thinking about writing the songs. But I genuinely thought it was great."

On Life With You, easily the best Proclaimers album since 1988's Sunshine On Leith, the twins' lyrical brio is undimmed. In Recognition lays into supposedly Left-leaning artists who accept honours from Queen or government.

Craig doesn't want to name any names, but then can't help himself: "Harold Pinter. Says he takes it because it's off a Labour government - what difference does that make?" he spits. "A Labour government that went to war." Charlie adds: "And he already called Tony Blair a war criminal, which I think is legitimate to say, and he takes an honour!"

Iraq also looms large on S.O.R.R.Y. (a disgusted reflection on a warmongering media) and The Long Haul (a rejection of the idea that "the war on terror" has to last for decades). But Life With You is no dour polemic: the tunes are as robust and inspirational as the Proclaimers ever were.

After the show, Craig and Charlie came out to autograph the CD's they were selling and chat with fans. There was a long line, but Daring Daughter scooted out of the theatre quickly, so we were near the front. I was touched by how long the men spoke with each fan, including our family. And I was surprised by the way they marketed the new album; they offered 2 copies for $20. So we bought two and asked them to sign both to our family. I explained to the twins that someday when the kids were grown, I didn't want them to squabble over who got to have a copy.

Professor X told them that we'd last seen them in Castlebar, County Mayo, in 2006. We visited a minute more, then, mindful of the long line behind us, bid them goodbye. They genuinely seemed sorry to see us go. That human contact between artist and audience is a precious thing. The Proclaimers know how to do it right.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life is Not Fair

Daring Daughter's favorite phrase appears to be "But that's not fair!" This is uttered frequently in response to anything her father or I do or say that is remotely not to her liking.

Trust me when I tell you that the child has it good. More than good. Exceptionally, spectacularly, tremendously great, in fact. We keep pointing out to her the ways in which her life is so wonderful, and model gratitude for the good things in our life. We are in good health, we have fine educations, we live in a nice home in a safe neighborhood free of nuclear waste dumps and roaming bands of zombies....

We are sitting pretty.

We talk to her about the ways in which others' lives are not fair.

Like a local high school teacher who died after a car hit him on his bicycle and then drove away.

Like a friend who lost his job and is struggling. Actually, we have several friends like that.

Like fabulously talented Hugh Laurie once again not receiving an Emmy award. WTF?!

Like a zillion other examples we share with her.

I don't pray very often for things (I do try to remember to offer prayers of gratitude when something goes right, because my Mom stressed the importance of thank you notes) but I am praying now:
Please, God, make this kid appreciate all the great things about her life and stop whining.

And yet, she has a point.

I was deeply saddened to learn this weekend that one of my blogging friends, Barry Fraser, author of An Explorer's View of Life, received some very bad news. He and his wife Linda have been valiantly dealing with his condition of esophageal cancer, fighting the disease with grace and humour. But the cancer has spread, and the doctor thinks it's incurable. Who knows if she's right? There are plenty of people who've been told such things, only to go on to get well and outlive their doctors.

I pray to God that's the case here. In fact, I'll take back my prayer about my daughter in order to give this one priority in the queue.

Barry is a great storyteller. He writes of his marriage, his beloved dog, Lindsay, of gardening, of life in Canada, his children, his grandchildren....all with vitality and fine wordcraft. I think the first post of his that I read was War Brides - Part 1. He told the tale of his parents' courtship. I was hooked. I continued to be a frequent reader. Then one day, months later, I read the news that Barry was having trouble with his throat. But the good news was that the doctor said it was an ulcer, not a tumour. Phew. I knew a friend who'd had cancer of the esophagus, and it had been scary. Thankfully, he'd recovered after treatment. But it certainly wasn't something I'd want anyone else to have to go through.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before Barry found that he actually DID have cancer. He's been undergoing treatment since March, and I'd hoped that he would get a clean bill of health soon. Although it was debilitating at times, the disease hadn't kept him from writing and enjoying walks and celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day. He knew that every day is to be treasured. And now this.

Thinking about him and his family, I feel like yelling as my daughter does.

God, that's not fair!

I know that we've all got to go some time, and at least Barry had many good healthy years. More years than my own Dad did. But although he's old enough to be my Dad, he's still a heck of a lot younger than I want to be when I get news like this. He doesn't deserve this situation in any way.

My heart is heavy.

I think it's precisely because of cases like this that I want so much to believe that there is more to life than just what we have here on Earth. Obviously, I haven't been able to find out for sure yet.

I know that we can create our own heaven and hell - a Paradise on Earth, if you will, (perhaps it looks like Paradise Inn, at Mt. Rainier, pictured below) but I don't know what happens after our bodies stop working.

I think in order to avoid going crazy about the undeniable fact that sometimes life is not fair, we must believe that there is an afterlife.

That doesn't mean we stop trying to make life better here for ourselves and others. But it does mean that we can take heart in knowing that when the day comes that we and our loved ones exit this life, there's something new waiting.

That sounds fair, doesn't it?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Entering the Forbidden Zone

Last night, Professor X and I went to see a hilarious show called Forbidden Broadway. It features four performers who are terrific singers/comedic actors. You can read more about it here. Or at their website here.

We laughed our lips off. If you get a chance to see it, you should definitely go.

Two men, two women, one pianist/tambourine player.

Very simple set - just a couple of microphones on stands and a glitzy, sparkly back curtain.

A bazillion costume/wig/facial hair changes.

Extraordinarily clever parodies of countless Broadway show tunes, both old standbys like Annie and Mary Poppins and new favorites like Spring Awakening and Wicked.

The lyrics and delivery were beautifully witty. I wish I could remember some to share with you. I tried to do a google search, but although there are numerous CDs from the shows (it began in NYC in 1982, and has been performed all over the world, with constant updating and revisions) I can't find any good full clips or lyrics. I may be compelled to actually buy a CD. If I do, I'll share some of the goodness with you in future. Meanwhile, here's a tiny taste of some of what we saw.

I wish we'd brought the kids, because they would have totally loved it. But the reason we didn't was because I only won two tickets. Yes, I said "won"! I entered a contest held by our local paper, Willamette Week, and was thrilled to win. Since the tickets were $55 each, we decided we didn't love our children that much we didn't purchase two additional for the kids.

I'd told them to go to bed before we got home, because they had school the next morning. Of course, when we pulled in the driveway, the lights were still on. I opened the door and heard the television. I totally trust my kids, but I crept in to the family room to see what they were watching. Is it just me, or have you noticed lately that some shows are becoming extremely risque, with more and more bad language and characters who commit serious misdeeds? I don't want my kids to be exposed to bad role models.

As I peeked around the corner, my worst fears were realized. It was a program about a very foul-mouthed individual who abused his position of power and conspired to cover up felonious acts.


I love my family of political geeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mourning The Passing of a Poet

My Dad used to love to watch Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. I didn't really get most of the humour, since I was only a kindergartener when the show began. But I looked forward to it so much because I knew it meant that my Dad would laugh.

A lot.

He had a really great, deep, belly laugh kind of laugh.

One of the performers on the show passed away yesterday. His real name was James Bateman, but you probably know him by his stage name. He began his career with a comedy routine in which he assumed the character of a southern poet. Reportedly, he named himself after Norwegian poet Henrik Ibsen because "...if you say his name with a Southern accent it sounds like Henry Gibson."

I'd seen him in a few things over the years - he played the Nazi in The Blues Brothers, Mr. Wormwood, the supermarket manager in Innerspace, and Reilly O'Reilly, a leprechaun in a cute made-for-TV movie, The Luck of the Irish. When I looked at his list of credits on IMDB, I was surprised to see how continuously he'd been acting, in a wide variety of shows.

I have to confess, though, that I wasn't aware that his trademark on Laugh-In was writing and reciting short poems, often with sharp satirical or political themes. Reuters notes:

Each week, a giant flower in his hand, he recited a signature poem, introducing them with the catchphrase that became his signature: "A Poem, by Henry Gibson."

The poems proved so popular that they led to the release of two comedy albums, "The Alligator" and "The Grass Menagerie," as well as a book, "A Flower Child's Garden of Verses."

The LA Times has a great piece about him. There are some very fun reminiscences from coworkers, friends and family. I was surprised to read that he truly was a poet. I don't know why this surprised me, but it did.

"He wrote all those himself," Jon Gibson said. "It was a point of pride that he only read poems that he himself wrote."

Whenever I saw him throughout the years, I thought back to that time of my life in a small house in a small family room with a small black and white TV, when some outrageously dressed comedians brought joy to my father's life.

I miss my Dad's laugh. I wish I'd recorded it, as others have recorded Henry Gibson's funny little poems, to enjoy even though he's gone now. Maybe you could do me a favor. Spend a minute listening to the audio clip and reading his poems below, and let loose with a great big, hearty laugh.

It's good to have poetry and joy in our lives, don't you think?

What Freedom Means to Me sung by Henry Gibson

Send Me A Voice Comment! | Copy This

Marshall McLuhan,

What are yuh doin'?

The Eyelash
The eyelash is a friend to man.
It lives to serve the eye.
It fights the dirt and dust and grime,
And keeps the eyeball dry.
Flick, flick. Flick, flick.
It's busy as a bee.
Flick, flick. Flick, flick.
It's helpin' you and me.

("That was an original folk song.
Which I wrote originally for my folks." H. Gibson)

Animal Trio
The bullfrog is my pal true blue.
He don't smoke or drink or chew.
His only hang-up is he sniffs glue.
If I was a bullfrog I would too.

I just found out what the aardvark does
When he's feeling kinda blue and wants to get a little buzz.
He sneaks off down to the edge of the beach
And turns himself on by sniffin' bleach.

The hedgehog is a groovy friend.
When he dresses like a hippy he's the livin' end.
He's only got one hang-up when he's at the logs.
He turns himself on smokin' dental floss.

Dogs Are Better Than Ants

Dogs are better than ants
Because you don't have to bend so far to pet them
In addition, they are sturdy old muzzlers
Who fetch us our slippers, papers, and twig chunks
Twig chunks
But most of all, they stay out of jelly jars and
Never go squish if you happen to step on them.

The Thumbnail

Did you ever stop to figure
Why the thumbnail is so hard?
Well it hasn't any choice
With all that skin to guard.
It may look fat and pudgy
But it's heart is good and true.
It's prettier than a toenail
And easier to chew.

(Flowers have always been the motivating force of my life)

They are not all flower children,
All those that use the name.
A lot are just imposters,
Playin' at the game.

Beware (beware),
Beware (beware)
Of artificial flowers,
They may be nice to look at,
But they're dead and can not grow.
Beware (beware),
Beware (beware)
Of artificial flowers.
They're plastic up on top,
And they're wire down below.

The real flower children
Are filled with love.
Phonies, they just scoff at love -
Their hearts are made of wood.

Beware (beware),
Beware (beware)
Of artificial flowers,
They may be nice to look at,
But they're dead and can not grow.
Beware (beware),
Beware (beware)
Of artificial flowers.
They're plastic up on top,
And they're wire down below.

True blue flower children
Do not act strange or queer.
They know the world has got to change,
And it must start right here.

Beware (beware),
Beware (beware)
Of artificial flowers,
They may be nice to look at,
But they're dead and can not grow.
Beware (beware),
Beware (beware)
Of artificial flowers.
They're plastic up on top,
And they're wire down below.

Moments in Parenting

Some days, it's like this.
Some days, it's like this.

One of the reasons I love the blogiverse is because there are so many clever, funny women (and men, too, but this post is not about men) who illuminate moments in parenting in clever, funny ways.

Here are a few awesome examples:

1. Suburban Matron describes her flash of inspiration on the unique opportunity afforded by grilled cheese sandwiches. (Viewer discretion advised: bread heels figure prominently in this post.)

2. Bad Mom tells the tale of a fun invitation which turned into an ethical dilemma which resulted in (SPOILER ALERT!) a very teachable moment, nurturing and love demonstration.

3. A Tired Wife is my newest find. She has some lovely photos of her lovely daughter, some hilarious observations about her husband, and some political views that warm the cockles of my heart.

Parenthood ain't for sissies. In honour of these sisters and others like them, I offer this clip.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time of My Life

He was beautiful.

Strong and athletic, sexy and sensitive.

I'd been married a couple of years, but had some serious lust in my heart for this guy.

And now he's dead.

Sure, his dancing was amazing; energetic and sensual, unlike anything I'd seen before. But what really won my heart was his character's vulnerability. The notion that a young man could publicly acknowledge the effect a young woman had on him, inspiring him to try to be a better person.

Don't you love these lines?

...a great partner, who’s not only a terrific dancer, but somebody who’s taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people, no matter what it costs them. Somebody who’s taught me about the kind of person I wanna be.

The story touched me. It felt so true.

Internet movie database notes the following:

According to a December 2008 interview with Dirty Dancing screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, the characters of Baby and Johnny were both influenced by Bergstein's own biography. Like Baby Houseman, Bergstein came from a liberal Jewish family who visited Catskills resorts during the 1960s; her father was a doctor; and she was nicknamed "Baby" until she was 22 years old. Like Johnny Castle, Bergstein was an skilled "dirty dancer" who learned at house parties and later became an Arthur Murray instructor.

There's no doubt that, for me at least, a big part of the timelessness of this film is its excellent authentic script. Good writing makes a movie. Many reviewers have noted that Patrick Swayze was assured immortality with the line "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." But his physical talent and ability to portray a sweet young man were equally memorable. I remain surprised that he didn't get more roles to show off his acting. I remember his impassioned speech to Baby:

Johnny: No, no. Look, you've gotta understand what it's like, Baby. You come from the streets and suddenly you're up here, and these women, they are throwing themselves at ya, and they smell so good, and they really take care of themselves. I mean, I never knew women could be like that, you know? And they're so rich, they're so goddamn rich, you think they must know about everything. And they're slipping their room keys in my hands, two and three times day, different women. So, here I think I'm scoring big, right? And for a while, you think, hey, they wouldn't be doing this if they didn't care about me, right?
Baby: That-that's alright, I understand. You were just using them, that's all.
Johnny: No, no that's not it. That's the thing, Baby, see it wasn't like that. They were using me.

It's a stunning gender role reversal moment, and Swayze pulls it off brilliantly. It gives a viewer hope that men have emotions too, that they care about something besides just having sex. From what I've read of his personal life, including his 34 year marriage, Swayze truly cared about Lisa Niemi, his wife. I like that.

Patrick Swayze, rest in peace. The angels are gaining a hell of a dance instructor.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Men Behaving Badly


Click their pic if you're unaware of their special acts of stupidity.

There is someone else I'd like to include here, but I cling to the hope that he will reconsider his recent insane behavior and revert to being the loving husband he was not so very long ago. Sadly, his action of leaving my friend his wife is far more serious than anything Wilson, West or Jordan have done. I open my computer and read the featured news story on yahoo each day, but it is all pretty far removed from my life. The joys and sorrows of my family and friends are much more important to me.

What would life be like if an average person's actions were publicized the way that celebrities' are? I'm reminded of Hawthorne's magnum opus. Would people think twice before acting if they were subject to public shaming? My children and I watched Pride and Prejudice last night, and I had to explain the import of Lydia and Wickham's scandalous behavior. The norms now are so different. So many unmarried couples have children, there are so many divorces after so many people cheat...

I hope my own children have happy, loving marriages. I hope they will continue to work on their relationships to keep them strong. And I hope my friend will find peace and happiness, however things turn out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rockin' it out on health care reform

One of my favorite parts of the Smithsonian American History Museum is their collection of popular culture political protest songs. Here's a suggestion for an addition. This guy is awesome!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Parody of Paranoia

No way is any daughter of mine going to school to listen
to that dangerous Negro socialist president!

I'm inspired to share a little bit of brilliance I discovered today with you.

My children went off to school today with my blessing. I was excited that the President would be speaking to schoolchildren throughout the country.

I've been absorbed with some projects and fun things recently, so I hadn't realized just how controversial this simple act was becoming. Some friends' Facebook posts alerted me to the madness. I particularly liked this one by Mary C. Curtis at Politics Daily. She quotes a couple of sentences from Ronald Reagan's 1986 address to schoolchildren:
"We got inflation down, interest rates down, and our economy created over one and a half million new jobs just last year alone. The poor are now increasingly able to dig themselves out of poverty, and that's been good economic news."

Wheaton College Economics professor John Miller noted in a 2004 article on Ronald Reagan's Legacy:

Reagan's economic legacy endures. Government continues to turn its back on social spending for the poor in favor of ineffectual tax giveaways for the rich, at same time that it finds unlimited monies for military adventures. Lopsided economic growth showers benefits on stock investors while doing precious little for workers or-not an entirely separate group-the poor. And today's Depression-level inequality is not mitigated as much as it once was by the tax code.

I found a really interesting article entitled The Ghost of Ronald Reagan: How We Remember the Real Legacy of the Conservative Icon. Here are a few choice morsels:
Through the skillful use of imagery, code words and political action, the Reagan administrations--in both California when he was governor and then in Washington--managed to thwart and even reverse Black aspirations and goals in the United States and in Africa.
...political observers were noting the Obama's run to White House depended largely on the votes of the so-called Reagan Democrats. Those formerly reliable blue-collar Democratic voters, threatened by social change and Black gains, switched to Reagan in 1980 and continue to vote against their own economic and sociopolitical factors.
Conservatives have had such a monopoly on his image that few Americans today remember that while running for governor in California in 1966, Reagan promised to dismantle the Fair Housing Act, saying, "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, he has a right to do so."
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu characterized the Reagan legacy as "immoral, evil and totally un-Christian."

We all know that some of the parents who are freaking out are against Obama at least in part because they aren't comfortable with a black man as president. I'd suggest that a significant part of the fear people have about Obama's speech is that they worry he'll do what Reagan did - inspire young people to get involved in governance.

I certainly hope so.

But I promised you a little bit of brilliance. And my post title refers to a parody. Without further ado, here 'tis.

CNN aired a clip showing a Tammy Faye Baker-like conservative mother crying her eyes out over the prospect of the President speaking to her child and countless other innocents.

Then another woman did an awesome parody.

I especially love reading the comments. Some people don't get that it's a parody. After watching the original clip, I get that. The fearmongers and fearful verge on hysteria.

In the Facebook posting of this, one of my friends labeled it "Hysterically funny." Another friend commented soberly "we laugh these people off at our own peril."


Monday, September 7, 2009

Quittin' Time?

A dear friend asked me this afternoon if I'd given up on blogging.

Her question reminded me of this clip from a famous movie. Ten points to anyone who can correctly identify the film and the character.


Oh, and about her impertinent question?

No. I plan to post at least once a week. But I'm just not ready to commit to a specific day, because I am unreliable spontaneous and flaky free spirited.

Club HASAY: I blame Vivien Leigh

As God is my witness they're not going to lick me.
I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again.
No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill,
as God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.

The lovely Casey, fearless leader of Club HASAY, has reminded me that it is time once again to assess how I'm doing on my fitness goals. She is a real killjoy on my quest to attain Rubenesque proportions cruel taskmistress true friend to help me in this way.

So here's the scoop:

I don't think I've mentioned that I'm a real fan of Gone With the Wind before, have I?

The film was one of the first romantic stories I'd seen in my young life. What can I say - we didn't have classics like High School Musical back then. Besides, my mother had the hots for Clark Gable.

Who can forget the memorable quotes, like
You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.
I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!

The first, of course, is that scandalous Rhett Butler, followed by quite a smooch.
The second is that little liar, Prissy. Shame on her!

And then, there's this scene:

Being exposed to such sentiments at such an impressionable young age was devastating to my efforts to look like Twiggy. I suspect Twiggy was, in fact, often hungry.

This is my way to rationalize why I've not slimmed down. It is totally Vivien Leigh's fault.

Ponder this. How does that movie end? Scarlett murmurs to herself after Rhett has left "I'll think about it tomorrow.... After all... tomorrow is another day!" Delay tactics. Yes, we're all familiar with them, aren't we? I suppose ultimately, I should blame Margaret Mitchell. She put the words in Vivien's mouth.

Sometimes I'm haunted by the futility of it all. I've had two children. Maybe it's inevitable that I should be large and lumpy. Think about Mammy's words as she tries to lace up Scarlett's corset:
Miz Scarlett, you ain't never gonna be no eighteen-and-a-half inches again!
Mammy, portrayed by actress Hattie McDaniel, was reflecting on the glory days of Scarlett's teeny tiny waist, as shown earlier:

Ack. I was going through a box of old clothes from my high school days this past weekend (they were fun things I figured my daughter would enjoy for dress up games - I really wasn't planning to wear them myself, so shut up) when I thoughtlessly put one of the skirts in front of me to see just how much I'd grown.
No, that's not me. But it's how I felt.

I console myself that at least I don't sneak food. Remember, earlier, when Scarlett was getting ready for the barbecue, she was compelled to eat in her room so she wouldn't wolf down a bunch of food in front of the menfolk:
Prissy: Mammy, here's Miss Scarlet's vittles.
Scarlett: You can take it all back to the kitchen; I won't eat a bite.
Mammy: Yes'm you is, you's gonna eat every mouthful of this.
Scarlett: No... I'm... NOT.
No, siree, I eat everything openly. Yum, yum, yum. But I need to make better choices and really exercise. So today I'll be taking the young'uns to the fitness center with me to begin a routine of regular exercise. And I'm going grocery shopping right now to pick some healthy foods.

Because as fine a lady as Hattie McDaniel was, I don't want to be as voluptuous as she was.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Time for Action

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I'm one of the fortunate ones. Professor X has a great employer who provides our family with wonderful health coverage. I don't live in fear of some illness or injury wiping out our savings. I'm able to take my children to the eye doctor and the dentist for a nominal co-pay. But so many of my friends don't have this "luxury." One, a mom of two young boys, is hesitant to let them play soccer in case they get hurt, because she and her husband can't afford health insurance. Another is struggling with the prospect of expensive dental bills in order to assure her daughter a nice healthy smile. These friends have nice homes and decent paying jobs. If they and so many others like them, solid middle class to upper middle class citizens, are feeling swamped by health care costs, it must be a thousand times more frightening for poorer folks. I can't really imagine it, but I can be grateful for our blessings.

And I can speak up to support health care reform. I may not be in trouble, but others are, and I believe that action by our government can make this situation better. I remember when the Clintons first tried to make a difference on this issue, back before I was a parent. I was so disappointed when their efforts were thwarted.

Now that the Obama administration is endeavoring to lead on health care reform, there's a ton of misinformation and downright lies being spread against his proposals. Google "health care reform" and you'll see a zillion falsehoods - scare tactics by the bad guys.

There's a good website with information about the government's plan at

I need to figure out what sorts of action I can take to support the reform effort. I'm open to suggestions!

This is what I just posted on my Facebook page, after seeing it on friends' status lines:

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day. ALSO - if you agree your Representatives need to hear from you! They are hearing from Teabaggers every day. Please take a moment to call (202) 224-3121 and leave a message for your senators and representative.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Timeless Sentiments

I know, I know.


It's been FOREVER since I've blogged.

I've been traveling all over the country, and when we arrived home, we traveled some more. Up to the land of the hoary marmots and waterfalls at Mt. Rainier. And I have so much to share with you. But my children have just started school and they need my time right now. I promise I'll try to get you caught up in the coming days with all that we've seen and done and heard and smelled and tasted because you've undoubtedly been waiting with breathless anticipation, desiring to learn each detail of my fascinating summer.

Meanwhile, here's a goodie just for you. I've recently gotten reacquainted with my old friend Jane Austen, who wrote a lovely book called Pride and Prejudice. Some very talented people made a movie based on her story. One of them was my newest second husband, Matthew Macfadyen. He is so pretty. And he has such a scrumpdiddliumptious voice. I was rummaging around on youtube when I stumbled on this clip.

I have high hopes that my son and daughter will achieve all their dreams of fame and glory in their chosen fields as they get older. But I know enough of life to realize that there will be some hiccups along the way. Some fools won't recognize their worth, and they will be disappointed every now and then. My wish for them is that they have friends and loved ones to soften the blows, and that they prioritize to make those people the most important things in their lives.

Shakespeare said it more elegantly:

Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.