Friday, September 30, 2005


It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing.

This morning, the Demigoddesses cheerfully left for the bus on time. When they kissed me goodbye they were clean, they were well fed, they were wearing shoes. They each had their homework and their housekeys.

As I sipped the last of my morning tea before leaving for work, I took a moment to compose a grateful little haiku about the source of my peace and serenity:

Sweet late school start day,
such luxury are your two
extra hours of sleep.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Always Knew That Waldo Was Not Quite Right

Shamelessly stolen from Badger...

How many of the banned books from the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged book list have YOU read, you deviant?

Mine are in bold:

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz

Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling

Forever by Judy Blume

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Giver by Lois Lowry

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Sex by Madonna

Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard

The Witches by Roald Dahl

The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein

Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry

The Goats by Brock Cole

Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane

Blubber by Judy Blume

Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

Final Exit by Derek Humphry

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Pigman by Paul Zindel

Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard

Deenie by Judy Blume

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar

Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole

Cujo by Stephen King

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell

Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

Ordinary People by Judith Guest

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Crazy Lady by Jane Conly

Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

Fade by Robert Cormier

Guess What? by Mem Fox

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Native Son by Richard Wright

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday

Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen

Jack by A.M. Homes

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle

Carrie by Stephen King

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge

Family Secrets by Norma Klein

Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole

The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Always Running by Luis Rodriguez

Private Parts by Howard Stern

Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Running Loose by Chris Crutcher

Sex Education by Jenny Davis

The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene

Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts

The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney

Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

The majority of the bold titles listed above I read before the age of 15. I'm not sure what to think about that.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

The results are in.

Demigoddess the Younger did not win a seat on the student council, in spite of a very witty speech and campaign posters that included the slogan, “Narcoleptics for (Demigoddess the Younger).” I thought that one was hilarious myself, but apparently most junior high kids don’t know about narcolepsy, and the ones who do clearly don’t have as well-developed senses of humor as we have at our house. Oh, well.

She seems to be taking it fairly well, and has more or less decided that student council is just a big popularity contest, and all the other kids are stupid. Self-esteem does not appear to be an issue with Demigoddess the Younger.

Demigoddess the Elder, on the other hand, not only earned her very first debate win during yesterday’s tournament, she won two of her three events (and, according to her, really should have won the third as well). For her achievement, she received a blue ribbon (all the rest of the kids received red ones). I am so proud of her, I get all misty-eyed just thinking about it. I can’t stop kissing and hugging all over her.

She keeps saying, “It’s not a big deal.” But it IS a big deal and I am SO going to bake her that cake. I'm even going to put sprinkles on it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

There Is No Page For This In My Franklin Covey Planner

It’s a big day for the Demigoddesses.

Demi the Younger, in a humbling act of bravery, is running for the seventh-grade student council and will deliver her campaign speech today. She wrote out a very persuasive, funny speech, and based on the rehearsal version I heard last night, I like her odds. I'd totally vote for her.

Demi the Elder, in an even bigger and even more humbling act of bravery, will participate in her first debate tournament of the year today. Ms. Elder joined the junior high debate team last year, and throughout the course of last season, she won a total of one tournament. And that was because the other kid didn’t show up. But, remarkably, she stuck with it, and she has worked very hard to prepare, and if she wins, well, I think I’ll bake her a cake. I think I’ll bake her a cake even if she doesn’t win.

So, with all of this in mind, I fully intended to make sure that they both started the day with a good, nutritious breakfast and rousing pep talks before school this morning. Naturally, things did not go quite as planned.

Instead of preparing breakfast, I sat at the dining room table speed-writing $120 worth of "...Oh! I need $_______ for debate fees/lunch money RIGHT NOW or I can't go to today's tournament/eat lunch..." checks, and a note of permission for Demi the Elder to leave school early for the debate tournament (none of which I was aware they needed until, ahem, very, very recently).

Demi the Elder’s “good, nutritious breakfast” was about to be the last leftover doughnut from Friday night’s sleepover (uck) until I intervened at the last moment and traded the stale doughnut for a granola bar and some yogurt, most of which she left on the table anyway.

The Elder couldn’t find her shoes, The Younger had misplaced her house key, and they both ran out the door late for the bus, with me feebly calling words of encouragement from the doorstep.

And yes, of course, they left behind the lunch money (Demi the Younger) and the note of permission (Demi the Elder). So my morning commute to work included a detour to the junior high that, thanks to road work and the world’s longest stoplight, made me 40 minutes late for work.

Some days, all we can hope for is that our children will succeed in spite of our best efforts.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Still Recovering

Me, at 12:30 a.m. Saturday Morning:

“All right. I am going to bed now. I don’t expect you all to go to sleep now as well, but please. PLEASE be quiet. If you wake me up, I am not going to be happy.”

Me, at 3:00 a.m.:

“Turn the stereo OFF and quiet down!”

Me, at 4:00 a.m.:

“It's four in the morning, now. HOW ABOUT PUTTING A SOCK IN IT, LADIES?”

And as if that weren't enough fun for one party…

In what universe is it okay to pick up one’s child at 11:05 a.m. from a sleepover birthday party that was scheduled to end at 10:30 a.m.? Two separate sets of parents, this was.

The only reason these people are still living is that I was too exhausted to stab them.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Demigoddess the Younger’s sleepover birthday party is happening tonight. She invited five friends, all of whom accepted (damn), which means that I will have a total of seven junior-high girls in my home.


Now, our house has a half story upstairs, and there is a bathroom up there, as well as a stereo and TV. I'll be bringing a VCR up for the occasion, also. We spent a significant amount of time clearing out the majority of the toys, so there is now plenty of floor space to accommodate everyone’s sleeping bags and pillows. My bedroom is downstairs, and the stairway between the two floors has a door that closes. We have hosted sleepover birthday parties upstairs a number of times before, and, so far, they have always gone off without incident (knock wood). But nevertheless, I am afraid.

When a group of junior-high girls gathers, there are myriad ways in which things could go terribly wrong. The mind boggles at the possibilities. And to complicate matters, this Goddess gets a tiny bit grumpy when she is deprived of sleep. Especially when she is deprived of sleep by other people’s children.

But the cupcakes have been baked, and the gift bags have been assembled. I'm as ready as I'm ever gonna be. Bring 'em on.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, the Demigoddesses were in the kitchen putting breakfast together, and I overheard Demi the Younger say to Demi the Elder something about using grape juice and her Snoopy Snow Cone Machine to make faux margaritas for her guests later tonght.

I went immediately into the kitchen.

“No,” I said.

“No. Here is what’s going to happen tonight: Your friends will come over at 7:30 p.m. We will sing happy birthday, we will eat cake and ice cream, and you will open your gifts. Then, I will give you a cooler full of pop, I will give you lots of chips and candy, and I will give you videos, all of which you will take upstairs. You will shut the door behind you, and I do not want to see your faces again until morning. Clear?”

“We can’t come downstairs?”

“No. Do not come downstairs unless you are in need of serious medical attention. I'm talking high fevers, projectile vomiting, or bleeding out the eyes.”

I may have to put something heavy in front of the door, just to be sure.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Praise the Lord and Pass the Clicker, Storm Tracker Edition

Things very nearly got very ugly at my house last night. Developing severe thunderstorms meant that all network programming, including the Lost premier, was pre-empted by a gaggle of local weather forecasters jumping up and down and waving their arms in front of swirling, multi-colored, computer-generated storm tracker graphics and screeching about flying lawn chairs (ACK!) and downed trees (EEK!). Funnel clouds! Golf ball-size hail! Cash in your life insurance, kids, because it’s the END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT! GAAAAAAAAH!

A case of Katrina/Rita envy, perhaps? Thunderstorms and tornados are about as close as Minnesota is ever going to come to a category 4 hurricane. And while I could appreciate the needs of our local weather-casters to feel included in the severe weather attention that has been all over the media of late, when they mess with my much-anticipated night of television bliss? Well.

Let’s just say it's a darn good thing that UPN decided to take a much more reserved approach to the situation, and only aired weather updates during the commercials on America’s Next Top Model. ‘Cuz things were teetering dangerously on the brink of getting Medieval at my house, and when that happens, there exists no hail big enough, no straight-line winds powerful enough to prevent me from exacting my vengeance all OVER your sorry storm-tracker ass. I’ve got your category 4 hurricane RIGHT HERE.

Fortunately for them and me, there is a new Top Model HOUSE. A house that is decorated to look like a department store... only with, ooh! A hot tub! And a POOL! With a shoe room and a handbag room! My friends, THAT is my own personal idea of Nirvana.

The Lost premier did air later, after the storm blew over. So, while things did not, in the end, get ugly at MY house, it turns out that things truly did get ugly at about a dozen houses in Andover, and in many of the northern suburbs of Minneapolis.

And yeah, I feel appropriately like an ass.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Praise the Lord and Pass the Clicker

I do not miss my Old Navy part-time job. I do not miss it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that my weeknights are once again MINE to do with as I please.

Well, mine after I do the dinner dishes and a couple of loads of laundry, and on nights when the Demigoddesses don’t have Girl Scouts or some other school function that they need to be delivered to and fetched from. But I digress.

What “once again mine” really means is that I am now free to devote my evenings to accumulating as much brain damage as possible by way of lots and lots of stupor-inducing television. And, starting tonight, I will finally have something to watch other than CRAPPY ASS BASEBALL. (Because all the yelling at the television and all the agonized weeping, it harshes my stupor.)

In addition to the Battle of the Network Reality Stars finale, tonight also brings the newest round of America’s Next Top Model AND the season premier of Lost.

Lost is not a reality show, and therefore will be a small detour from my usual reality TV madness, but it comes highly recommended by the same very wise and trusted friend who highly recommended My Ho… and he turned out to be a fairly large and fairly positive detour from my usual boyfriend madness. Plus, the other night I caught part of a show that recapped most of last season’s Lost happenings, and, ooh! Creepy and intriguing! So I’m ging to try very hard to get over the fact that I can't think of Matthew Fox as anyone but Charlie from Party of Five, and give it a try.

Goodness, how I long for Tivo.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Again With The Politics

While out driving yesterday, I found myself behind an SUV (betcha they're having fun keeping that puppy gassed up these days...) with a bumper sticker that said,

“Bush won. Deal with it.”

Right. You mean deal with it like the former residents of New Orleans are dealing with it?

I intentionally ignored our fine president’s press conference last week, in which he admitted that the federal government had failed the people of New Orleans. I ignored it because I am still angry. Because, as I said before...

No fucking shit, Sherlock. Thanks for noticing.

The following was delivered yesterday at Brown University in Providence, R.I., by Sen. John Kerry.

You know, that guy who didn’t win.

“…Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration. The truth is that for four and a half years, real-life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics.…

…I know the President went on national television last week and accepted responsibility for Washington's poor response to Katrina. That's admirable. And it's a first. As they say, the first step toward recovery is to get out of denial. But don't hold your breath hoping acceptance of responsibility will become a habit for this administration. On the other hand, if they are up to another ‘accountability moment’ they ought to start by admitting one or two of the countless mistakes in conceiving, ‘selling,’ planning and executing their war of choice in Iraq.

I obviously don't expect that to happen. And indeed, there's every reason to believe the President finally acted on Katrina and admitted a mistake only because he was held accountable by the press, cornered by events, and compelled by the outrage of the American people, who with their own eyes could see a failure of leadership and its consequences.

Natural and human calamity stripped away the spin machine, creating a rare accountability moment, not just for the Bush administration, but for all of us to take stock of the direction of our country and do what we can to reverse it. That's our job—to turn this moment from a frenzied expression of guilt into a national reversal of direction. Some try to minimize the moment by labeling it a ‘blame game,’ but as I've said, this is no game and what is at stake is much larger than the incompetent and negligent response to Katrina.

This is about the broader pattern of incompetence and negligence that Katrina exposed, and beyond that, a truly systemic effort to distort and disable the people's government, and devote it to the interests of the privileged and the powerful. It is about the betrayal of trust and abuse of power. And in all the often horrible and sometimes ennobling sights and sounds we've all witnessed over the last two weeks, there's another sound just under the surface: the steady clucking of Administration chickens coming home to roost.

We wouldn't be hearing that sound if the people in Washington running our government had cared to listen in the past…

…The bottom line is simple: The ‘we'll do whatever it takes’ administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.

It has consistently squandered time, tax dollars, political capital, and even risked American lives on sideshow adventures: A war of choice in Iraq against someone who had nothing to do with 9/11; a full-scale presidential assault on Social Security when everyone knows the real crisis is in health care—Medicare and Medicaid. And that's before you get to willful denial on global warming; avoidance on competitiveness; complicity in the loss and refusal of healthcare to millions….

…Katrina is the background of a new picture we must paint of America. For five years our nation's leaders have painted a picture of America where ignoring the poor has no consequences; no nations are catching up to us; and no pensions are destroyed. Every criticism is rendered unpatriotic. And if you say ‘War on Terror’ enough times, Katrina never happens.

Well, Katrina did happen, and it washed away that coat of paint and revealed the true canvas of America with all its imperfections. Now, we must stop this Administration from again whitewashing the true state of our challenges. We have to paint our own picture—an honest picture with all the optimism we deserve—one that gives people a vision where no one is excluded or ignored. Where leaders are honest about the challenges we face as a nation, and never reserve compassion only for disasters.

Rarely has there been a moment more urgent for Americans to step up and define ourselves again. On the line is a fundamental choice. A choice between a view that says ‘you're on your own,’ ‘go it alone,’ or ‘every man for himself.’ Or a different view, a different philosophy, a different conviction of governance—a belief that says our great American challenge is one of shared endeavor and shared sacrifice….

…I still believe America's destiny is to become a living testament to what free human beings can accomplish by acting in unity. That's easy to dismiss by those who seem to have forgotten we can do more together than just waging war…

…They didn't listen to the Army Corps of Engineers when they insisted the levees be reinforced.

They didn't listen to the countless experts who warned this exact disaster scenario would happen.

They didn't listen to years of urgent pleading by Louisianans about the consequences of wetlands erosion in the region, which exposed New Orleans and surrounding parishes to ever-greater wind damage and flooding in a hurricane.

They didn't listen when a disaster simulation just last year showed that hundreds of thousands of people would be trapped and have no way to evacuate New Orleans.

They didn't listen to those of us who have long argued that our insane dependence on oil as our principle energy source, and our refusal to invest in more efficient engines, left us one big supply disruption away from skyrocketing gas prices that would ravage family pocketbooks, stall our economy, bankrupt airlines, and leave us even more dependent on foreign countries with deep pockets of petroleum.

They didn't listen when Katrina approached the Gulf and every newspaper in America warned this could be "The Big One" that Louisianans had long dreaded. They didn't even abandon their vacations…

…It comes down to the fact that the job of government is to prepare for your future—not ignore it. It should prepare to solve problems—not create them.

This Administration and the Republicans who control Congress give in to special interests and rob future generations. Real leadership stands up to special interests and sets the course for future generations. And the fact is we do face serious challenges as a nation, and if we don't address them now, we handicap your future. My generation risks failing its obligation of assuring you inherit a safer, stronger America. To turn this around, the greatest challenges must be the starting point. I hope Katrina gives us the courage to face them and the sense of urgency to beat them.

That's why the next few months are such a critical time. You'll read about the Katrina investigations and fact-finding missions. You'll get constant updates on the progress rebuilding New Orleans and new funding for FEMA. Washington becomes a very efficient town once voters start paying attention…

...Today, every American knows the name Katrina—and once again we know our government was undeniably unprepared, even as Americans have shown their willingness to sacrifice to make up for it. But in these uncertain weeks of Katrina's aftermath, we must ask ourselves not just whether a great country can be made greater—the sacrifice and generosity of Americans these last weeks answered that question with a resounding yes.

No, our challenge is greater—it's to speak out so loudly that Washington has no choice but to make choices worthy of this great country—choices worthy of the sacrifice of our neighbors in the Gulf Coast and our troops all around the world.

What's in it for all of us? Nothing less than the character of our country—and your future.”

You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Waaaaaay Too Old For This Kind Of Silliness

My fabulous sister Meghan e-mailed me a last-minute invitation to a show at the Fine Line Music Cafe on Friday. I didn’t really know who Bob Schneider was when she invited me, although I did recognize the one song that she sang part of as having gotten a lot of play on the local alternative radio station a few years ago. But she raved about a CD of his that she used to have (until she broke it), and anyway, Meghan is fabulous, and a night of live music with her is pretty much guaranteed to be a good time. So I said, hell yeah, I’m in.

We met two of her co-workers there, and when the opening band took the stage, I said, “Damn! These guys are GREAT! Who are they?” Turns out, the opening band had already played, and THAT was Bob Schneider. The music was great and the show was a lot of fun (I totally get why he has been banned from the Basilica Block Party…), and even though I don’t normally go for the scruffy, long-haired rocker types, I found Mr. Schneider himself to be, oh my goodness, a most charismatic morsel of a man. We were in the balcony, and I swear he looked up there about twelve times, surely because he could sense me ravaging him in my head. (Judging from the throng of sweaty young females pressed up against the stage, and the purple thong that landed onstage at one point, I suspect it’s a common affliction.)

We ducked out of the concert a little early, because one of Meghan’s co-workers knows the owners of a couple of clubs downtown, and he wanted to show us around a bit. Clubbing is something I never did a whole lot of (okay, never did at all), having spent pretty much all of my twenties married and parenting two young children. The clubs we went to were very interesting, and because we were “on the list,” velvet ropes were opened for us more than once. That was kind of exciting. But overall it was simply not my scene. I am so far from fabulous that I had to have Demigoddess the Younger tell me what to wear for God’s sake. By the end of the evening, no doubt Meghan’s co-workers were both wondering how the sister of a one-woman walking party could turn out to be the biggest buzz-kill of a dishrag on the planet. I really didn’t know what to do with myself in those clubs, and I spent most of the time we were in them wishing we had stayed at the Fine Line to see the end of the show. Paris Hilton I’m not.

So today I’m going to spend my lunch hour shopping for the newest Bob Schneider CD. You can hear it here.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I’m So Lucky And You’re So Not

Lookee what I won in a drawing at work this morning:

It’s a 9.25-pound Nestle Crunch bar.

That’s 97 servings, according to the nutritional information. So if I eat the whole thing, that’ll be 20,370 calories and 1,067 grams of fat. Yummy!

The best part? Yeah. It’s “Shaq Size.”

At what point does one become so famous that one's name automatically becomes synonymous with obscenely large objects?

The Demigoddesses are going to FREAK OUT.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bring On the Wire Hangers

In every mother/daughter relationship, opportunities occasionally arise for all parties involved to gain a little perspective. One such opportunity recently presented itself in the form of that cinematic classic of parenthood gone awry, “Mommie Dearest.”

Certainly, I have had my cold-cream and lipstick moments. But given that I have never bludgeoned either one of my children with a can of Ajax (or any other cleaning product, for that matter), after viewing some of the choicer scenes with me, the Demigoddesses had to agree that I am really not such a bad mom after all.

Even if I make them watch child abuse re-enactments on cable to prove it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Happy Birthday, Beastie!!

Today is my littlest sister’s birthday. Normally, this would be cause for much family hoopla and celebration, but at the moment, my littlest sister is in FRANCE.

Which is still kind of hard for me to believe. Because even though she has been to France many times, and even though she speaks fluent French and even lived there for several years, I still think of Betsy (Elizabeth to everyone outside the immediate family) as a little tot with jelly on her face and uncombed hair, wearing her favorite hand-me-down green Peanuts sweatshirt. Damn she was cute.

She’s still cute, but much taller now, and her fashion sense has improved dramatically. She's also very clean, usually.

So anyway, I e-mailed her some happy birthday greetings already this morning, and she will be back in a few days, at which time the hoopla and celebration will commence in earnest. In the meantime, in case you underestimated the level of Little House insanity that happens in my family on a regular basis, I give you this recent e-mail from my baby sister, who is now very tall and well dressed in France:

“I think I may have just watched one of the worst Little House episodes ever! It was like a train wreck from beginning to end. Does anyone remember the episode where Mr. Edwards (who really hasn't been spoken of for five years) suddenly reappears?

‘Grace’ is played by the crazy mother of ‘Ellen,’ who took Laura hostage and tried to feed her birthday cake in the cellar about three seasons prior. Ironically enough, the first scene is her bringing out a birthday cake for CARL (who isn't really Carl), which had me really confused for a while. Drunk Mr. Edwards ruins the party and gets kicked out and suddenly appears in Walnut Grove. He almost kills Albert while driving his wagon drunk, and ends up living with Laura and Almanzo because Pa kicks him out.

Laura, for whatever reason, keeps... talking... really... slowly... thoughout... the... entire... episode.

Mr. Edwards miraculously sobers up though some intense plowing therapy, but is tempted to drink after receiving a letter from Grace/Crazy Mom saying she has met someone else named Sims and wants a divorce (awful quick little hussy! And didn't Miss Beadle marry a guy named Sims??).

Thankfully, the Mercantile closes at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, so Mr. Edwards is unable to buy cough syrup or vanilla extract and decides instead to go to the church.

Who remembers that Rev. Alden was an alcoholic?!? Well, he apparently was! As Mr. Edwards is praying aloud, Rev. Alden comes in and confesses that 30 years ago he was in the exact same situation but found God and was cured. Convenient!

The icing on the train wreck comes from our favorite little actress, Carrie. In the final scene, where Rose is baptized at Plum Creek, during a close-up pan of those in attendance, Carrie looks DIRECTLY into the camera not once, but TWICE.

Maybe they should have left her in the well!”

Happy birthday Bettina! You are awesome and I adore you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Maybe It's a Genetic Thing

When I was growing up, my parents went through a lengthy parade of family cars. Early on, when my dad was in sales, he seemed to bring home a new company car every year, and sometimes more than one at a time. During the later, lean years, my parents either bought or inherited a series of beaters that caused the junior-high-aged me to crouch down in the back seat and hide in shame every time we went anywhere. But as those other cars came and went, one constant remained through it all—the first car my dad ever bought new, the same year I was born—his 1969 Dodge Charger.

An original bad-ass muscle car, the ’69 Charger had both brawn and beauty. It remains one of the most revered cars that Chrysler ever designed. A land shark that measured over 17 feet from bumper to bumper (I looked it up), and with a back seat that easily held four kids and the dog, it got about 10 miles to the gallon. Ours was brown, inside and out, and was truly a thing to behold:

Motor Trend magazine had this to say about the Charger:

"After sinking into soft seats that look and feel like real leather, you look outside and see eerie sweeps of metal and hypnotic, fascinating shadows that soothe the pounding sun and make the car an almost organic, protective embrace.”

I guess they kinda dug it.

While I remember the vinyl seats very well, I do not remember them being particularly soft or feeling like leather. What I remember is the vinyl upholstery sticking to the backs of my young legs during the summer. On the hottest days, we’d have to sit on beach towels to keep from frying our skin right off.

The “eerie sweeps of metal” part was true, though. I especially remember the steering wheel. Ours had a brown interior, but otherwise it looked pretty much like this:

As for the “protective embrace,” well, that may have been true by 1969 standards. But back then, cars came with seatbelts that snapped to the wall, way up above the windows, where they could be secured out of the way and not annoy passengers with something so trivial as safety. Not so much a “protective embrace” in the post-Ralph Nader era.

Both my parents drove the Charger, but we always understood that it was without question my dad’s car. He loved that car, and still gets a little misty-eyed when he talks about it. I can’t think of it without thinking of him.

Although Chargers tended to be rust-prone money pits, it seemed like we had ours forever. My dad held on to it through most of the 1980s, even though it spent most of its last five years languishing in the driveway behind my parents’ house. I wasn’t home the day they finally had it towed away, but I remember feeling like I had lost a childhood friend after it was gone.

Dad paid around $3,500 for his new. Nowadays, thanks to the Dukes of Hazzard TV show and movie (yes, the General Lee was a ’69 Charger), a fully-restored one goes for $40,000 or more. Not many are still around, and I read that between the TV show and the movie, a good 300 Chargers were destroyed during filming. Seems like a tragic waste, doesn’t it? The fact that many of those cars gave their lives for a Ben Stiller movie (not to mention Jessica Simpson), well, that’s just like rubbing salt in the wound.

As for me, these days I drive an aging Civic, which has proved to be a very practical choice since gas prices have gone over $3.00 per gallon. It’s a great car, and I’ll likely buy another Honda when the time comes. But the first time I saw a commercial for the new Dodge Charger, it stopped me cold. One glimpse of that split-rectangle grill and I was immediately overcome with a powerful wanting.

After I thought about it, I realized that it only makes sense, considering.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

The Demigoddesses and I spent most of the weekend sorting through their old playroom. Their interests over the past couple of years have migrated to other parts of the house, to the rooms where the computer and the TV and the telephone reside. Earrings and lip gloss and portable CD players have become more interesting to them than Legos and Beanie Babies, so that particular area hasn’t seen much action in a while. But Demigoddess the Younger is planning to have a belated sleepover birthday party in there in a couple of weeks, so we needed to clear some floor space.

Demigoddess the Younger had been placed in charge of cleaning up before her party, but after spending a hour a day for the past week and a half working on it, she hadn't made much progress, and I knew that if it was going to get done, I was going to have to step in. Assuming that the job would take me all weekend, and probably part of the next one as well, I dug in alone on Saturday morning. After a little while, Demigoddess the younger joined me, and Demigoddess the Elder followed a little while after that.

Although it had been a while since I spent much time in there, cleaning and organizing that playroom is a task I have performed hundreds, if not thousands, of times in the past. Again and again, I’d spend hours sorting the same toys into buckets and plastic boxes, only to find a day or two later that it had all been returned to its former post-nuclear-explosion chaos, six inches deep from wall to wall. This time through, though, as I once more picked through the Barbie shoes and the Polly Pocket clothes, separating the Betty Spaghetti pieces from the PowerPuff Girls accessories, it occurred to me that it could very well be for the last time.

Together, the three of us filled garbage bag after garbage bag with old school papers, Happy Meal toys and dried out markers. I threw out little hair clips and plastic necklaces, two broken Barbie cars (one of which no longer had wheels), and the remnants of countless half-finished craft projects (the beads… my God the BEADS). Our chore was a bittersweet archeological expedition, as I unearthed a little pair of battered Reeboks, white with purple trim, that still showed evidence of having been chewed by our first puppy. I think Demigoddess the Younger wore them in the first grade. We found a photo of Demigoddess the Elder, posed with her kindergarten teacher, and we found the doll she took with her to the hospital when she was three. Even though the doll’s hair is now a ratted mess, and her dress and cloth body are stained beyond help, I couldn’t bring myself to throw that one out.

In the past, the younger Demi would weep and wail over every item I put into a garbage bag. But she cheerfully tossed out her old playthings, or volunteered to set them aside for Maggie, my niece. The elder Demi, who could be counted on to become distracted and start playing with every third item she touched, moved efficiently through her side of the room, putting things on shelves and filling her own garbage bag. There was no yelling, there was no drama. For the millionth time, I realized wistfully that the children who had once treasured this voluminous accumulation of stuff no longer live in my house. They disappeared right out from under my nose, and I didn’t even appreciate it while it was happening.

We had already cleared a large portion of the room when I came across a little pair of satiny pink dolly underpants.

“Look,” I said, holding them up. “Somebody’s dolly has lost her undies.”

“Not mine,” answered Demigoddess the Younger. “My dolly doesn’t wear undies.”

“Well,” I said, “Your dolly is a ho.”

Demigoddess the Elder added, “Yeah, your dolly doesn’t even know who her baby daddy is.”

It’s been a long time since anybody made me laugh to the point of tears. As I sat surrounded by their old toys, wiping my eyes and trying to breathe, it occurred to me that back in the days when I cleaned this room on a regular basis, those are words I never would have imagined I’d hear coming out of my daughter’s mouth. It also occurred to me that it’s a darn good thing they are back in school, because they have obviously been watching way too much daytime TV.

Together we plowed through the clutter in record time. By late Saturday afternoon, we had cleared ample space for the sleepover. We still needed to vacuum the carpet and clean the adjacent bathroom, but we had done enough for one day. As a reward for all their hard work, I treated the Demigoddesses to a PG-13 movie and dinner at Chipotle.

I’ll always miss my messy little girls. I’ll even miss their piles of childhood crap. But these two young women I live with now, they get more perplexing and challenging and funny, more generally marvelous, every day.

I know many of my readers are parents of young children. My best advice? Don't blink.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Blogging Katrina

A firsthand account from a paramedic blogger who just returned from New Orleans.

Be sure to check out her photos, too.

Thanks to Odious Woman for posting this link.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It’s Just Lucky For Her

No matter how much she might deserve it... no matter how antagonistic and infuriating and overly dramatic her behavior has been... it is impossible to stay angry with a child who is wearing a T-shirt that says “I (Heart) Tator Tots.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Top Five Issues I Am Having With “Battle of the Network Reality Stars”

1) They’re NOT all “Network Reality Stars,” because Real World, Road Rules and Project Runway are on cable. Duh.

2) Seeing Jerri from Survivor and Wendy Pepper from Project Runway together in the same place, along with Joe Millionaire and rejects from Temptation Island and America’s Next Top Model, well, it gives me a massive headache. I mean, the Real World/Road Rules challenges, they made sense because, you know, those shows are both on MTV. But this! This is an abomination! Waaaaaay too many worlds are colliding that were never meant to collide. I can’t get my brain around all the dysfunction, and when I try, it hurts.

3) No Lynda Carter, Gabe Caplan, Robert Conrad, OR Heather Locklear? What the hell? They're not even wearing tube socks, for cripe's sake. What a ripoff.

4) When exactly was there a show called “Joe Schmoe”? Did that one really ever exist at all? I’m thinking that this guy is some kind of a plant, because I am a total reality TV who-er, and I have never heard of him or his stupid fake show.

5) I cannot stop watching this idiocy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Cleansing Breaths on a Stick

I’m a little more calm now, although not anywhere near anything I’d call, you know, peaceful. The good news is, my first profanity-filled political rant also earned me my very first troll, which is a genuine milestone. I’m a real blogger now! He even used the *F* word! I couldn't be more proud.

My Labor Day weekend was busy enough that I didn’t have a lot of time to watch TV coverage, which, I think, is a good thing. We shopped, we went to the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market, we attended family gatherings. And yesterday the Demigoddesses and I spent 8.5 hours at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, during our annual trip to the state fair.

As per tradition, our day took us first to the fish pond at the DNR building, and then through the various animal barns, where we were privileged to hear a rooster crowing competition and I actually paid 50 cents to milk a dairy goat. (I really did.) The pig barn always smells the worst of them all, hands down, but it also boasts the biggest boar at the fair—this year’s winner weighed in at 1,060 pounds—and piglets. Who can resist piglets?

Then we took My Ho to the Agriculture Building for his first ever viewing of crop art. Several works had a surprisingly political slant this year. I had no idea there were so many lefties with a lot of time on their hands in rural Minnesota.

I haven’t seen anything so memorable since the year someone did an interpretation of "The Scream" in seeds. To this day I wonder what inspired that one. Must’ve been a looong winter on the farm.

We rode the chairlift over Machinery Hill and took a tour of a model mobile home, which the Demis decided was much nicer inside than our house, and truly, it was. We collected information on alpaca farming, and with no prompting from me whatsoever, each Demigoddess purchased her very own political button at the DFL booth (such wonderful blue children). My Ho was a remarkably good sport as we visited the L’Oreal tent, and he waited most patiently as the girls and I tried on a variety of new hair colors. We saw fine art and creative arts, and we picked up free pine tree seedlings from the Education Building. They always have the best free crap in the Education Building.

We ate cheese curds, Sweet Martha’s Cookies, and Tom Thumb doughnuts. We ate frozen apple cider, honey ice cream with sunflower seeds, and Fudge Puppies (the delightful chocolate-dipped Belgian waffles on a stick with whipped cream and sprinkles that are my personal favorite state fair delicacy). It really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, because we divided nearly everything four ways, although things got progressively weirder as the day wore on. We ate spaghetti and meatballs on a stick. We ate cheeseburger wontons. Believe it or not, the most appalling item on the day’s menu was not the Reuben on a stick (don’t ask). It was—brace yourself—a deep-fried Twinkie.

It doesn’t taste much different from a regular Twinkie. Go figure.

My very favorite state fair moment came at the end of the day, as we were waiting in line for the River Rapids ride, our traditional last stop before boarding the shuttle bus back to the car. A sign posted at the start advised various individuals not to ride the River Rapids, including pregnant women and people with high blood pressure, motion sickness, or heart, back, or neck problems. Demigoddess the Younger observed aloud, “Head Injury Barbie wouldn’t be able to go on this ride.” I guess it’s a good thing she stayed home.

So it was definitely a state fair to remember, and, aside from a tiny bit of guilt at all the gluttony, I hardly thought about natural disasters or how angry I am at the federal government at all.

But then this morning I was back online, and I read something that made me remember a little. At the risk of this becoming a political blog, I have to post a bit of it, because it makes me want to lay a big fat wet kiss right on Keith Olbermann:

“No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the ‘chatter’ from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, ‘we are not satisfied’ with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which ‘we’ he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

…All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like ‘no one could have foreseen,’ had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. ‘The responsibility,’ of government, Churchill told the British Parliament ‘for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence.’

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.”

Friday, September 02, 2005

Thank God...


I'm sure there are lots more stories like this out there. Thank God for you and people like you.

Not Acceptable

Associated Press
September 2, 2005 KAT0903.BUSH
WASHINGTON — President Bush, facing blistering criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, said Friday "the results are not acceptable.''

No fucking shit, Sherlock.

Up until last night, I intentionally did not watch any coverage of the Katrina aftermath, not out of denial, but out of self-preservation. I knew it would simultaneously break my heart and whip me into a rage of epic proportions. Last night’s "Prime Time" special on NBC proved me right.

There have been many occasions on which I have wanted to choke the Texas accent out of our fine president with my bare hands, but every one of them pales in comparison to this.

Because this:

is what happens when you cut infrastructure funding.


is what happens when a disaster strikes while the NATIONAL guard has been sent half a world away to fucking IRAQ.


is what happens when you allow corporate greed to destroy the environment’s natural protections.

And this:

Is what happens when you try to run the country while on vacation in goddam Texas.

People are really and truly dying of dehydration on the streets of 21st-century America. What exactly is it going to take for this administration to get its head out of its collective ass?