Thursday, January 31, 2008

Outstanding achievement in family programming

My Netflix community knows that I have been indulging in 70s TV, and have recently re-discovered the wonder that is Spelling/Goldberg's & Mike Nichols's (Mike Nichols? no kidding?) brown-corduroy celebration of repressed emotion known simply as "family." In lower case.
The 70's was not in fact the Me Decade. It was the Woe is Me Decade.

This titling technique was tried later with thirtysomething, the story of what people who grew up watching family turned into.

If you are remembering Family as schmaltzy, contempo-Waltons where everyone hugs at the end, you are mixing it up with Apple's Way (Vince van Patten! Vince van Patten!). The Lawrence family were much angrier.
As evidenced by the pilot episode, summarized here for your reading pleasure.

Dissatified law student Nancy Lawrence has left her husband and infant son after catching the former in bed with another woman. She comes home to her family, which consist of full-of-regret mother Kate, this-is-not-my-father's-marriage father Doug, high school drop out Willie, and perpetual tomboy Buddy. All of whom wear signature hats. Meredith Baxter would join this cast later as a smarter softer Nancy. Kristy McNichol's character aged almost too well, forcing the producers to Cousin Oliver sassy Quinn Cummings, who then never worked in this town again.

Family was not technically "family" television. It was actually on at 10pm, peak adult time, and may explain some of the jaw-dropping dialogue, though the plots are not anything we couldn't see in an afterschool special.

The Tuesday night lineup was skewed toward ABC in 1976. You started there for Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, but at 9, ABC put on Rich Man-Poor Man. Part two. (like, I am so sure) The prudent viewer would crank over to CBS for M*A*S*H and One Day at a Time. (Even the Lawrences watched Mary Tyler Moore.) But at 10pm, back to ABC for the somber cello notes of the family theme song.

Highlights from the pilot episode. These are not joke captions. This is the real plot.

Brother and sister discuss the unimportance of early-developed breasts, which Buddy does not have.

Willie is so cool, he lets Buddy drive. Note the position of that "safety belt" under her arm. She is also sitting on her math book. Later she will steal the '74 Maverick and be brought home by the police -- not because of the spat over dinner when her father makes a veiled threat to spank her, but because she manages to overhear that her father had an affair 20 years ago, and.... that she was almost aborted.

Well that is a lot to take when you haven't had your dessert. And it is only 10:15.

While Buddy is being rounded up for questioning, Mother and pregnant Elder Daughter are having a heart-to-heart about adultery and abortion, over cocktails.

Note the placement of guest cigarettes. I used to fantasize of my swinging bachelorette pad as having whimsical table lighters and groovy ashtrays at every turn.

KATE: You don't sacrifice a family and a marriage, if it is a marriage, to hurt pride, Nancy.

Livvie Walton would not have said that.

Buddy is finally brought home from the precinct, and is not spanked, because her parents realized she overheard the whole thing, and instead she gets a headful of bitter Kate wisdom.

KATE: Sometimes when a woman is having a baby, you're not the one in control...Sometimes just for a minute or two, sometimes a little longer... you panic, and think you don't want it.

Enjoy high school, Buddy.

My other favorite Kate line she says to her husband Doug: "I found out I don't give a damn what happened 20 years ago. Just habit -- to throw it up to you every few years."

Lest you think the pilot was a bit "off," in the second episode, Kate has a cancer scare and a heart warming mother-son moment where they both admit they don't want to talk about it.

I intend to swallow this entire On-Cor entree of post-war frustration for as long as the discs hold out. You can look forward to many updates on character development. But I am not renting Rich Man-Poor Man Book II, no matter how much you beg.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Sky is Falling

BBC: An out-of-control US spy satellite - possibly the size of small bus - is believed to be plummeting out of its orbit and is expected to crash somewhere on the planet within weeks. But space experts don't believe the rogue satellite poses much of a threat to humankind.

Oh. Good. Pass the butter.

To help us feel better about this news, the European Space Agency adds, "...a spy satellite heading uncontrollably towards Earth is not an uncommon event." It must not be, because a "space debris analyst" is the guy who said it. This is not his blog; that would be too good to be true.

"Normally, when US spy satellites reach the end of their lives, they are disposed of through a controlled re-entry and dumped in the Pacific Ocean, so that no-one can learn their secrets. "
The Atlantic Ocean, of course, is full of cruise ships and U-Boats, so there is no more room.

"But, Dr Jehn says older satellites are often more difficult to de-orbit properly."

"Only ...very heavy objects will survive [re-entry]." Still not feeling better.

"...given that the Earth is so big, the probability in this case that someone will be hit is really remote." If this sounds familiar, it's because you are thinking of Reagan's AIDS policy.

"Officials say they have no idea where it might land but that they are keeping other countries abreast of the situation." We hope they are large and sparseley populated countries. Like... Canada. Not like India, that Skylab fell on. "Days beforehand, police across India's 22 states were put on full alert. "

""It could come down anywhere and it's very difficult to predict," says Esa's Dr Jehn.
"About 24 hours before it hits the ground, we might get a better idea."
You may want to choose your cult group now. Because the 24 hour panic will get crowded.

Group A
Group B
Group C

"Maybe an hour or so beforehand experts might know roughly where the satellite will land - but it is only rough because the line is something like 10,000km long. " Twice the line from California to the New York islands... from the Redwood forest... to the Gulf Stream wa-a-aters....

what was I doing?

"Dr Jehn said that some 10% of the craft could reach the ground, with the rest forming tiny particles in the Earth's atmosphere. He said those pieces would have the same impact as a plane that explodes in the sky scattering debris on the ground. " to wit.

"Experts believe that the most likely scenario is that the pieces will drop into the sea somewhere, given that almost three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered by water." By "experts," we mean these guys.

"There is the possibility, however, that they could land in Russia or China." Oh, good, those bastards. Oh, wait, are we friends with them now?

"But Dr Jehn, says that while Russia and China would be clearly interested, he wasn't sure how many military secrets they could glean from the charred metal. " Perhaps they will learn our secrets for keeping things in orbit.

If you're wondering how I could be posting this commentary a week before the story was published, it's because I lie.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The nominations are in

And I can't say I am very happy about it.

Miss Bender's intimates understand her love of all things Oscar. Loyal readers know that I have begun to slip in my old age in my acceptance of not actually seeing all the nominated pictures if I hadn't intended to see them in the first place. But for many years I was devout about this rule (you can call it rigid, but don't try to make me say it), but I wasted some important hours on
dear god, this please bathe

And as I said last year, I don't have all day to sit at the movies. It's cold in there, the food is gross, and frankly, the sound is too loud. And I am 80. But let's stick with the topic.

This time of year, I can usually count on having seen most of the contenders. Maybe 1 or 2 late-qualifying releases, and just need to catch up. This year I have not seen... 4 of them. 4 of 5. 4/5, if you will. I am trending downward.

Just last weekend, as Otto and I were picking a picture, I said, "ucch, I never want to see that." "Which?" he said. "There will be blood in this country of old men." (This is a game we play where we combine the movie titles, but will never surpass last year's "The Good German Shepard.") And now here we are. I have to see them both. And honestly...I think they are the same movie. This would be like Babel and Traffic being nominated in the same year.

I will post my Oscar picks after I have seen them all, but right now I want to pout a bit. I do want to see Juno, and it is under 100 minutes. I have seen Michael Clayton. So far it is my pick. It is Oscar worthy and tries to do something new with the corporate liability plot. And I haven't seen the others. That will not stop me from making preliminary comment. It's what you signed on for.

Atonement? Ok... but is there anything here we haven't heard before? Isn't this Legends of the Fall for girls?

Juno? Right, all the buzz is good. Fresh air on an old story. But this might be all script and no cinema, and my standards for best in show are broader than that.

No Country for yahyahyah... Is it possible that Javier Bardem is over exposed? I haven't forgiven him for Love in the Time of Cholera. And he looks like Buster Brown.

making that little collage just raised so many questions about Buster Brown...

There will be Blood. Here is where I take a position on something I know nothing about. I saw the length -- 158 minutes -- and decided I didn't need to know anything else. Synopsis: "When he breaks his leg when he finally finds the silver ore, he drags himself to town to sell it." I am hoping they mean the ore, and not his leg.

My early prediction is that the movie about oil probably wins. But DD-L just brings the taste of Gangs of New York back into my mouth.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reading The Economist

or... How I decided to cancel the newspaper and find out what was going on in the world.

or... How to feel ignorant on 7 contents and all disputed territories.

It didn't start as a quest for better news. It started as a quest for less newspaper. I stopped watching television news years ago. I think Max Robinson might have still been on.

I read 2 magazines regularly. One is Vanity Fair (still the most in-depth war coverage in US publication, and if you are making fun of VF it is because you think it is Vogue). It's not. Just because Demi has been naked on the cover.... twice... is no reason to think it is not a serious magazine. And they throw one heck of an Oscar party.

The other is The Oxford American. And they don't mean the college in England.

I was a charter subscriber of Entertainment Weekly for over 10 years, but then Reality TV happened, I outgrew all the music, and I got tired of the puns. I will still allow myself a current issue on a plane ride, but otherwise I have let it go.

When I first moved out to Central Mass I got romantic about home newspaper delivery, and indulging in the kind of Wamsutta sheets fantasy that features the Sunday Times and pots of coffee. For a moment I considered subscribing to The Christian Science Monitor, though I couldn't find a carrier this far out. I thought I should get local information -- "livin' in my city," we used to say when the gang were all Bostonians. So I subscribed to 1 of the town papers (ooo, haaah? we're a 2 paper town...) because how else would I know Kim the can man had passed away or what time Clinton Day started? And the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (known locally as the T&G).

The T&G turns out to be all car crashes and house fires, 10 pages of classified ads, 1 page of local business, a terrible comics selection, and AP wire stories. One day I realized I didn't know who the Prime Minister of the UK was. Not like {snap...snap} what's that's guy, ohhh, you know... I did not know.

The Economist is an investment, so let me give you some tips from my early observations.

It's a $100 subscription so you'd better know if you are serious. Perhaps you want to try dating it first through your local library. Perhaps you want to split it with friends. I've been with VF so long it costs me about $20 a year, and Oxford American comes only quarterly. I admitted, though, that I was paying $100 a year for the T&G and I left most of it on the floor.

It's densely written. Like VF, the layout style is long stretches of text-heavy pages, with few advertising interruptions. Unlike VF, the Economist ad is likely to be for Secretary of the Interior for the Solomon Islands. And that can be interesting. It is layout that says, "This magazine is good for you. And pick up your bike."

It's organized by continent. Well, there is a cover story, and a few regular "departments," then you get The Americas, Europe, Africa, etc. Britain gets its own section because it's a British magazine, which means....

It's globalised spelling and phrases like "tastes nice" and "whilst in hospital." Miss Bender does love the Masterpiece feeling of a such an intellEXual magasine.

It's a weekly. That's where your hundred dollars goes. I thought that reading an entire issue on a Sunday morning (cue spotlight on sheets....cue coffee smell) could not take significantly longer than reading the newspaper had, and it wouldn't except... I already fell behind. Thanks to a snowfall yesterday I was able to read my first 2 issues without brain-squishy, but could not make it through the current one, which I will have to pick through slowly this week.

It's smarter than you. I should say, it is smarter than I, but only because I lost track of my world leaders playing cards. And it is essentially about economics.

Things I can now speak casually about:
Tata Motors... who the Europeans think we should elect... who we think the Londoners should elect...Kenyan elections...what the Chinese know about genetics...sovereign funds (ok, I didn't really understand that article) and falling satellites, which I intend to comment about in a more alarmist way at a later date.

I tell you all this partly to explain why I haven't written you. But when I do, it should be a higher class of greeting card.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

You can't say that on radio

Unless you are the BBC.
Announcer referred to Senator Clinton's likely win in Nevada as "another scalp in her belt."
Chris Matthews could not be reached for comment.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ordinary life skills I do not possess

If Miss Bender comes across as worldly and sophisticated, you may need to get out more. Like those super geniuses without any common horse-sense, Miss Bender knows a great many things about a great many things, but lacks experience in a great many other ordinary daily life events that others can do without thinking.

I expect this could become a series of its own as I confess to stumbling through these events rather late in life, like buying men's shirts and clipping a cat's toenails, but then some readers in this room can't pump their own gas.
So I know you will be nice to me as I report how I did not know the finer points of how to get a prescription filled. I say finer, because I did know where to do it. After that, I was Fiona in the Timbuktu souk. (see, these are the kinds of things Miss Bender would know. Or how to obtain a strong physic at the apothecary's, followed by lashings of beef tea. But not how to work the CVS)

It started as post-program collapse (see aforementioned worked on my %^&#$!* birthday) then turned into an achy cold, then Wednesday morning had turned into an actual noise when I breathed. That didn't seem right. So I contacted my doctor and asked if she could give a listen, since I was likely to have consumption or the croup, or something equally Victorian. I can take a cold, and a little sinus pressure, but should I whistle like a radiator?

She could not see me, but her partner, Dr. Nick Rivera, was available. I can spend an entire post on that visit, but I think we want to get to the part where I play stranger in a strange land. Dr. Nick (after looking in all the orifices of my skull and asking me to cough) determined I had "little bit bronchitis" and gave me a twenty second film strip lecture on winter ventilation, and working closely in enclosed spaces. During it I was thinking that I didn't remember him washing his hands, and I know he didn't take my temperature. Instead, he had asked me if I happened to have taken it. Lately.

He typed out a little prescription that was somehow official even though it looked to have been made by MSWord's RX template. And as I took it, I knew I was in for trouble. All I was sure of was that there was a CVS down the block. After that, I had nothin'.

Here's what I knew: the pharmacy is in the back under the sign. It's sort of like a deli, but with different signals and jargon which would prove mysterious. The sweet young thing nametagged Shawn greeted me nicely and I said, "How ya doin'?" like I know how this works. I figure he wants the printout I have, so I treat him like the airline counter (a ritual I know very well, by the way). He starts looking me up in some system, where I am not, of course, and this takes some time. Then he just sort of stops and...looks at me.


I said, "I don't know what you want." because why pretend?
He says, "do you have a card?"
picka card, any card. Oh. insurance card. I hand it over confidently. He swipes.
Now he stares at the screen. "Do you have like, a deductible, or something?"
Hm? I dunno. Do I? Maybe. I know what that is. When my mechanic asks me, I know. Sometimes, when I am working my taxes, I know. But I suddenly don't know.
All right, not so suddenly. I don't really know. Know what I say?

"I don't know."

"Day pass on Aisle Four."

I'm counting on the fact that the line at the pharmacy is a cut stranger than any public line, and that he is used to odd behavior. But what I'm really thinking is what I used to tell people who couldn't figure out the Boston bus system (another ritual I know in depth), I would say in a dropped voice, "Retarded people can do it. It's not that hard." Which sounds like a mean thing to say, but it is quite true that the city bus is full of children, old people, immigrants, and people with disabilities, all of whom can get you from Kenmore Square to Salem on the North Shore without missing a transfer. And the look of the people waiting around for their salves and whatnot is that this can not be that hard.

Shawn says (remember Shawn? he's still there), Shawn says, "well you must, because this is ringing up at $119.00." He waits for the screaming, but I figure this is my fault. It's just because I don't know the secret tricks to make it free, like it was when I grew up in the army. So I say, "well, yeh, I can't pay that."

"Did you want to call them, or..." I like when people do the "or..." and then don't offer another choice. I like to wait until they list one, and appear more interested in it. But why be mean to Shawn? So I say "I don't know," because by this point he is sure I am a meth-head with a raging case of something only $100 of antibiotics will kill.

The real reason I was stalling was that I was considering how essential an antibitotic could be when what I have is "little bit bronchitis." It says right on the box, "It will not work for viral infections." Dr Nick wants to prevent any secondary infection in my weakened viral state (and get his kickback, one assumes). But what if I don't? What if I go right back home to my tea and soup and bedrest and Vitamin C and wait the 8 damn days for this thing to pass? Or what if I don't, and get Streptococcus pneumoniae? I did not take Shawn into my confidence; I just said "I don't know."

Shawn: "do you want me to fill it? And maybe you can call them?"
Me: "Yeh, go ahead and do that, because I am going to have to go outside and call them." What did that mean? You'll have time to get your mortar and pestle out and make the 10 precious gold tablets?

I will spare you the story of trying to reach Sh***y Healthcare and navigating their IVR system. That's really more of a customer service story anyway. Down at the Mill, we have 3 kinds of healthcare: teenage salesboy, families of 10, and middle ground. I used to have the Teenage Salesboy plan, but got tired of arguing about whether mammograms were preventative care, so I moved to the Middle Ground, which I understand slightly less, but am realizing I had better learn.
Tasha, at customer service, gives me the full on heebie-jeebies by saying "Is this the prescription at CVS you're calling about?" {{shudder}} I wait for her to say, "Are you in the green Toyota, Miss Bender, because I can send a representative out to you."

"Tasha," I said, "I don't understand why I always seem to be paying an outrageous fee for something with this insurance. can you explain that to me?"

Tasha had several options she didn't take, like "You live in America," "Your company is a cheap bastid," "You ought to read your pamphlet," or "No, ma'am, I really can't." She said, "I could transfer you to a benefits specialist who could advise you on some other options." Damn you, Tasha, but you're good.

Sitting in the car is when I remember there was a debit card of some kind -- and I am meant to use that for things like this, and where is that, anyway? Certainly not in the glove compartment, so something must be decided before my next move.

I go back in, to the Pick Up area of the deli counter where a woman comes over and asks me how it's going. I still think there might be a secret handshake, so I say "Shawn was helping me before." And I can tell from the looks that everyone behind the counter already knows I'm the infected meth-head. "My insurance company said I should ask if there is a generic brand of that medication." Shawn says, "there isn't of this, but there is another kind that is used to treat something else."

Come On Down! It's time to play... Second Guess the Doctor!

Today on Second Guess, our contestants are... Jr Pharmacist Shawn.... His Skeptical Supervisor... and returning champion Carrie, the Girl with the Suspicious Cough!

I cop to not being able to afford my medication, and she rips the label off of Shawn's hard work of putting 10 pills in a bottle. I'm Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment; "She doesn't have enough money! Can I have the register key!?" Supervisor says sternly, "You'll want to call your doctor right away to work this out." ("before you INFECT THE TOWN" is what I hear her telepath)

Look, even if I had $120 lazing around in my pocket, I wasn't going to drop it on something I wasn't even sure I would need, or that should cost that much. And neither would you, so admit it.

On the drive home (another skill I do have: not getting lost in Boston even when I am) I figured I would just go back to my doctor -- my REAL doctor -- and tell her to show me something from a lower shelf, thanks all the same.

My doctor has an email system, which I like a great deal, and since I surround myself only with other workaholics, we were able to work this out at 6:30 this morning. She agreed that was a "costly" brand, but wouldn't play Second Guess on Dr Nick, so she called in something new to the CVS by the Mill. I go down at lunchtime, this time with my cards already out (including the debit card I found neatly filed under "medical" in my closet) and now I know to say things like "called it in." I don't say "scrip" or "meds" or anything. You don't want to get cocky.

Oh, but no, we don't have anything for you. Sorry. Trudge back to the desk. More customer service nonsense. Voice mail left. Email left. I don't even feel sick anymore, I lie to myself.

The story speeds up from here. On the way home I stopped again, hollered over the counter like I'm in Dunkin Donuts and as they are ringing it up, I say, "What's the total on that?"


Now, because I have been to this counter 4 times in one day, I already know she wants me to sign her little notebook and verify my address.
"Do you take this medical card?" Why yes. Swipe.
"Hope you feel better."

well I do already.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

True stories

I printed off the "If today is your birthday" blurb (it's on the Internet; it must be true) and was about to read the whole thing with pen in hand -- not because I believe in it, but because I thought it would make for good material...
and it was last year's.

So let's first see if it was at all true.

"2007 is a year...of work and development.... Sometimes, it can be a year that feels hard, monotonous and routine...Advice: get yourself organized, work to build your resources, keep busy."

Wish I'd read that last year. Is it ethical to slap an astrologist?
"You derive satisfaction from a job well done, especially if you can readily attach meaning to it."
"This is an excellent year to focus on what really matters."
"This is a good get and feel organized. At time, you may be so focused and determined that you seem obsessive."
"This is a year of... healing past wounds that may have been undermining your attitude towards relationships now."
"You are more friendly, optimistic, and big-hearted than usual."
"Something tiny can trigger all sorts of buried emotions, and this can be very revealing!"

OK, enough clip show. What about 2008?
"This is a year of exploration and freedom. It's a time when exploration and reaching out to others brings opportunities. It's a good time to advertise and sell. Surprises are in store, and the routine is broken. This is a year when exciting relationships can be formed, life is breathed into the relationship."
Good, because I pretty much wasted last year.

PS - How you know you're a Mill Girl for real.
Your birthday is on a Saturday. And somehow you are still working.
Don't call me. I'm not home.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ruined forever by Wally Cleaver

#5 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

In 1975, there was plenty of beefcake on primetime TV for the adolescent girl to enjoy.

Monday- Chad Everett
Pretty late for the kids, but Mom liked him too, so there were exceptions on a schoolnight.

Tuesday - Fonz/Barbarino back to back.
Must Squeal TV

Wednesday - Michael Landon
Though Manly was a few years off, Pa could still make a girl's heart race, even if it was a little creepy that you wished he was your Pa

Thursday - Michael Douglas
After all those weak Walton boys, he was one smooooth operator. Check out Erin here, less adept at tea than Ben.

Friday - Chico... or M*A*S*H? Chico...or M*A*S*H
No debate for me -- I was an Alan Alda girl all the way

Saturday - Randy MANTOOTH

Sunday - Lee Majors
That head should be on action figure
in slow motion

They were "hunky," "foxy," Tiger Beat pretty, all hairy and ankle-booted.

But it was too late by 8pm. Because the afternoon had been kicking it old school. And even in their scalloped gym shorts and knee high socks, those slices of cheese couldn't hold a candle to the chinoed charm of 1950s dreamboats from afterschool TV.

Tony Dow did not age very well, mainly because he had to do it in the same era of cheese and Members Only that his younger self was competing against. He got pasty, and man-permed, and lost his Adonis edge. In his prime, though, he could stand in front of a mirror, and comb that wavy pompador for 24 minutes and I wouldn't have needed the rest of the Cleavers or even a plot.

No one is dreamier than that. Unless it is Tim Considine.

Spin and Marty were the rugged jeans-and-white T duo on the Mickey Mouse Club who met cute at a Dude Ranch and became BFFs of the Triple R (yippee-a-ay, yippee-oh). Tim, on the right, was also Frank Hardy on the same show, which was not at all confusing AND the original oldest brother on My Three Sons. Which meant if the stars were in your favor, you could see him 3 times in one week. And what's better than that?

Maybe Dwayne Hickman

Why couldn't Dobie Gillis ever get the girl? Clearly I just liked white pants.
You know who looked great in white pants was Billy Gray of Father Knows Best. He could rock a black t-shirt, all sinewed arts and dirty hands, trapped in a houseful of women until Marcus Welby came home.

If you do watch that entire clip, please write in and identify Jane Wyatt's accent.

I am now imagining a Wally/Bud sammich and must be left alone to enjoy that.

Sometimes I don't have a point. I just like to surf.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sects and Politics

So Iowa likes Huckabee.

I did not see that coming. And that's not sarcasm. I had filed Huckabee at the bottom of the list under "candidates with a gimmick," next to Biden (I run every year! Even when there is no election!) Tancredo (Immigrants...booooo) , Keyes (You didn't know I was in it!), Thompson (gung-GUNNNG!).

To put Huckabee's big win into perspective, please know the following facts:
356,000 Iowans played Red Rover, and sent the most Republicans over to the Huckabee side. But he was 4th overall -- after Clinton (Methodist, for the record).

Obama took 1/4 of the votes (about 89,000).
Huckabee took 11.4%. Let's generously call it 12%, or 42,000 votes. At Yankees Stadium, this is the number of people playing the "Guess the Attendance" game.

But now he's out there, all over my TEEvee, and I got somethin' to say.

Here is my full disclosure, for context, and to further confuse you about what color this blog is.
  • foreign-born, so I can't be president (but Britany can). I can indeed vote.
  • Baptist (the northern kind. now known as American Baptist, since the war ended). 400 years on my father's side...that we know about
  • 2 generations removed from Mormon on my mother's side. My name's in that vault somewhere. but then, so is yours.
  • because I am an unbaptized Baptist, I am also the worst kind of heathen. But Jesus and I talk about it every day, and he is very patient
  • my first presidential election: Reagan-Mondale. I was for Mondale
  • I sometimes vote republican in primaries. Because I vote in Massachusetts, and I want to be in the game
  • Bush is an idiot. Oh, wait, that's not what we were talking about. How did that get filed under my deepest beliefs?
So Huckabee's an ordained minister. Ordained by WHOM? I got tired of reading this, and decided to find out. From his own site, "A significant part of his adult life was spent as a pastor and denominational leader." In the SBC (that's the Southern Baptist Convention) a theological degree, or seminary study is not required for ordination, nor a guarantee of it.

A church community ordinates their own pastor, on their own terms.
One can consider it a kind of honor. Not everyone can be ordained.

So Huckabee is a pastor in the same way that Romney is a priest. I guess is what I am saying.

I am surprised by the people who ask are Mormons christian? I answer, "my first clue is when a religion has the words 'Jesus Christ' in their name." Ditto Christian Scientists and, dare I say, Jews for Jesus.

Mitt Romney has had to make a speech about his faith recently, I think to see if he would be struck by lightning, or turn to salt. (Some people's gods are trickstery that way.) In his remarks, he said in essence what Huckabee has said - that his faith is deeply personal to him and so... sit on it.

I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them and to my beliefs. ~~ Romney, 12/6/07

My faith is my life - it defines me. I don't separate my faith from my personal and professional lives. ~~ Huckabee, date unknown. from his offical website.

Voters who are afraid of Romney's Mormonism might do better to be afraid of a citizenry who isn't sure who to vote for until they clarify their relationship with Jesus Christ.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross" ~~ Ron Paul, 12/18/07, quoting Lewis, often attributed to Long.

When Joe Leiberman, who practices orthodox Judaism, was a vice presidential candidate, people worried whether he would work on Saturday. Probably -- but still not as shocking as our Quaker president carpet bombing Cambodia.

There was worry he would do away with the national christmas tree, which we haven't had nearly as long as women have had the vote - in fact, Americans didn't care about christmas trees until the monarchy we rebelled against married into German culture. We should probably lose it anyway, and the only federal recognition of a religious holiday. Let christians have to finagle our sacred day off like everyone else.

In all this talk of when life begins, and how old the earth is, and whether Jesus and Satan were actually brothers, or whether that was a UFO over Shirley's house , I wonder if we will get back to talking about how to put a pin in this war and bargain a little peace with the enemy. You know, the radical religious one.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Caucus, as explained by 6th grade girls

Jessica: Ok, let me explain it.

Emily: She's going to interview us, just wait.

Lauren: Be quiet, you guys.

Jessica: I know this...

Ashley: Let her talk. She totally knows it.

Lauren: You guys....

Jessica: Ok, listen. The first big thing is that you have to have your preference, or whatever. That is the huge, the whole, thing. So you have your preference, and you go, like, This is who I like, you guys.

Emily: Yeh, and then, all of us who like that same person too...? We go and stand there, with her...? and go, We like them.

Lauren: Wait you guys, you have to have enough percentage or whatever--- [Jessica/Ashley: FIFTEEN percent!]--teen percent. I said that, shut up!

Jessica: Ok, would you just.. [rolls eyes and moans -- uuugghr] Ok. [smiles] So that's our preference group. We'll be the group, and Emily, you be the Undecided or whatever.

Ashley/Lauren: (playfully) fuh-reeeeek! [all giggle]

Emily: Shut up you guys. Ok, (affecting haughty voice) I am un-dee-SIGH-ded.

Jessica: And we try to get her to come to our group.

All (but Emily): Red Rover, Red Rover, send Emily right over!

Lauren: Oh, wait, I changed my mind.

Ashley: No waaay!

Lauren: yuh-hunh. (to the interviewer) I have 30 minutes. I can go to every group if I want. (mouths 'slut'. all giggle). So, ok, I go over to this other group (jumps left) and Emily goes with them...

Emily: (waves imaginary wand) Freak no More! (all giggle)

Jessica: And that's what you do. Only, there is like, a whole, hugh-normous, like hall. Of people. Doing it. Ohmigawd! (all shriek) Oh, my god, you guys! shut up!! Caucusing. You know what I meant.

Interviewer: But how does that decide the election?

Jessica: Because the biggest group wins. And if you go to the convention, and don't do like the preference group said, you are totally---

Lauren: ---like, shunned. or whatever.

Interviewer: So, for the national convention, this is how you pick?

Jessica: nuh-uh. It's for the county. Then they pick who goes to the nationals

Emily: Like gymnastics competition!

Lauren: no it's not, Emily

Interviewer: What if everyone just voted their heart?

Ashley: You're just gross.

Interviewer: So... why does Iowa get to go first?

Jessica: I dunno. because of... I don't know. A treaty or something. Oh, my mom's here. She's taking us to China King, on accounta Lauren got her braces off today. See ya!!

Emily: (walking away) wouldn't wanna be ya. (all giggle)

Lauren: (running to catch up) you guys....

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

4.5 yrs; 3904 dead

Talking with some hometown friends, all of us daughters of war veterans. 1 Army WWII (both parents) and Korea (father); 1 Air Force Vietnam; 1 Army Vietnam (in our day, it was 2 words... Viet Nam). We were talking about the War -- this one -- and I told them how another friend had asked why it is that we-the-people are not more angry about being in so deep for so long and so hopelessly.

I suggested it was because the average American didn't really have to know about it if they didn't want to. It is a thing that happens to other people, unless you actually knew someone in it -- and in the US today, you are either related to the military culture or you are not. I had told her that from my own experience, those in the culture don't have the opportunity of being "for" or "against" the war. They are simply in it.

Current count of US Deaths confirmed by the DoD: 3904. This is very specific language, because of course, the non-military dead, the injured, the forever maimed, the orphaned, widowed, and simply ruined... are uncountable.

Here are some ways to bring the war into your daily life, since you're logged in already...

Witness the magnitude
Sort through this day-by-day accounting of casualties, which attenpts to count the uncountable, and conceive of the inconceivable.
A year ago, Google had an interactive US map with markers for names, ages, and hometowns. The site is no longer active, but someone took a picture of it before it was retired.

Find your local information
View casualty info by state, then drill into your state by clicking the state name for demographic info and estimated costs.
Find an action nearby - Try Peace Action, or Operation Home Front

Read GI blogs
Remember they are young, far from home, in danger. Their blogs may be as foreign to you as yours would be to them. You wouldn't say you are "for"or "against" the life you lead. But chances are good you'll be leading it tomorrow.
Better yet, read a spouse blog.

Read Anti-War Blogs
Because they can be just as disturbing. And heartbreaking. And eye-opening.

Question Authority
Find out what your representatives are doing and let them know your thoughts. (yes, that is a Quaker site. It's my blog)
Remember your state and local reps. This is where real governing happens, especially when wars are being fought by the National Guard.

Understand the worldwide scope of living in a war zone
from "The United Nations defines 'major wars' as military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year...As of mid-2005, there were eight Major Wars under way [down from 15 at the end of 2003], with as many as two dozen 'lesser' conflicts ongoing with varying degrees of intensity. "

Draw in a few threads of your own
Here is a good place to start.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Day One: 2008

Some folk believe that whatever you do on New Year's Day is how you will spend the rest of the year. This tears us between goofing the day away in recreational activities we love; the "improvement" promises we made the night before, probably while drunk, and the mundane chores of every day life that you know you don't do enough, so perhaps this superstition will take some of the pressure off your own discipline.
Perhaps I will spend 2008 writing awkwardly constructed sentences.

So I missed a week there in 2007. Here is your re-cap:

While you were away from the Mill: Big Sweaty resigned.
Boo frickin' hoo, as we say around my cube. Goodbye smokebreak meeting. Goodbye morning harangue. Goodbye Howard Dean-style rally cheers when the mikes are on. Glad to have won one of the last iPods.

This kind of power vaccum usually has disasterous results. I tried to press Rock Star in our last 1:1 for the secret plans for the future, but she encouraged me to leverage my synergistic opportunities for low-hanging fruit while simonizing my verisimilitude. Or...something.
I think I will put my iPod in my ears and go back to my loom. I managed to create an 8 hr playlist of gospel music. Swing low, chariot.

Down Souff: Overnight at Dodie and Ric's, made complete by a BBQ assortment platter, FF, and slaw. Yum. Yum. The highlight of our evening was a challenge Dodie had issued that she had listed 50 phrases or terms invented by us and our cronies and I had to come up with the same 50. We overlapped by fewer than 10, cursed ourselves for forgetting the obvious, and laughed our heads off. It is so inside baseball it is not worth posting, but trust me - it was hilarious, and our mutual childhood was very very strange. I made her watch the Hot Dog movie and she had to lie down from the nosebleed.

Driving Invalid: My mother has made her complete recovery from hip replacement, down to driving and returning to work this week. The formally housebound was out on the town: 1 theatre performance, 3 church services, and a quest to find plain seltzer (4 stops, but we got it at Food Lion). Better believe I bought a gallon of it. On a whim of out-with-the-old, we blew through her closet and filled several bags and boxes for the church yard sale. My general advice, "If you are still wearing purple and teal together, just stop."

Spinster Aunt: The one thing I have going for me is a working knowledge of audio-visual toys, which puts me ahead of most of my sister's household. Then I undermine that by saying ridiculous things like "Why do this, when you could be playing a real guitar?" and "You know that the word 'you' actually has 3 letters, don't you?" I play the Boston Priss to the hilt around my niece, who (one must confess) is more girly than I was at her age, but I enjoy the look on her face when I tell her I got her a strand of pearls for Christmas and she should write her thank you notes right now while we are waiting for iTunes to download. If she could have texted them, she might have done it.
Her mother and I accompanied her and a giant pair of pants with a boy in them to the movies and lunch at Applebee's. Then I checked myself into a retirement home. And I can't get "Slow Ride" out of my head.

1 Day back: I like taking 6 days off work, coming back for 1, then taking another off. Perhaps I can get this approved as a regular schedule. Scored a great deal on after-holiday turkey breast, only to find out it was a mislabeled turkey thigh, and well, that is just gross. But I cooked it anyway and now need to find some way to disguise the last of it.

Welcome back to DrawingIn 2008. Remember that comments build community, and make my blog look popular. It's a tough market out there.