Sunday, December 31, 2006

sneaking into 007

My end-of-the-year reflection is a goulash of imagery and words.

I listened to Garrison Keillor read a poem called "Benediction" and talk about the life of Henri Matisse on today's edition of The Writer's Almanac. It was velvet and uplifting and hopeful.

I watched Saddam Hussein have the noose placed around his neck in the video of his execution. It was barbaric and chilling and foreboding.

This week, especially, has been filled with delight and despair. Our children are home for a holiday visit. Their wisdom and peculiarity and beauty are are my treasures. Spent yesterday going to museums and bookstores with my daughter. We had an unhurried lunch and time to laugh and talk and be silent. I temper the urge to overwhelm her with my joy; our relationship seems a deeply-rooted but fragile rebirth. I have become very aware that a year is too long to go without seeing either of them. I kiss my sleepy son good morning (at 2 p.m.) and receive his disgruntled sweetness as a gift.

The despair part is more about the world in general. From today's New York Times:

The execution block scenes offered a grim echo of the sectarian struggle now convulsing Iraq, as Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads engage in a implacable cycle of revenge that has killed as many as 3,700 civilians a month this year, and prompted many Iraqis to say that the killings ushered in by the overthrow of Mr. Hussein are becoming as brutal, and numerous, as anything he inflicted.

3,700 Iraqis a month. A month. Jesus Christ, how we've poured gasoline on and fanned the embers of hatred.

We also watched Deepa Mehta's film Earth, based on Bapsi Sidhwa's novel
Cracking India, her autobiographical recounting of the partitioning of India. Brutal and compelling. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims lived together in relative harmony in Lahore for ages and she chronicles how lifetime friends become violent enemies by the time the country is partitioned and Lahore becomes the capital of the Punjab province of Pakistan. I have no solution, just the affirmation that violence begets hatred begets violence.


Holidays are about food. The gift of it. The sensory delight in it. For me, the perfecting of a dish.

Holidays are about laughter. The sound of it. The contagion of it. The way it cushions and clarifies truth.

Here are my end-of-year and holiday images. In no particular order.

The perfect pie, thanks to Christopher Kimball and the gurus at Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. Culinary deities every one of them. This baby tasted as good as it looked. And it looked gorgeous. For all of you who have suffered through my pastry strutting this past week, I vow this will be the last you hear about my damn pie.

And this gem from which captures these young men (one might infer drunken young men) calling to confirm their reservation for three in Satan's basement cafe. If there is a god and said god didn't find this funny, you are all in for a long, depressing afterlife. These guys made me laugh for days. I only wish I had thought of it first.

And finally, my parting grammatical shot for the year:

Will somebody PLEASE explain to these cretins the accurate definition of "literal"? A company cannot be "literally" born. It is "figuratively born" or plain old "born," used with the assumption that no behemouth, gravid being squatted on the race track and squeezed out Henry Ford's factory.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

contributions to atheism

Over the past two days two famous men died: James Brown and Gerald Ford. James Brown died at 73; Gerald Ford was 93.
I'm talking about James Brown here. James Motherfucking Brown. Sweating, rocking, living on the edge. And Gerald Fall-Down-Yawning Ford. Gerald Ford got an extra 20 years, for christssake. What kind of god would stand for this crap? That's rhetorical, my good readers, I really don't want to debate god's mysterious ways. I'm just remarking on the wrongness of it all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

my new title

Today's word of the day:

bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH; brih-\, noun:
Construction or something constructed by using whatever materials happen to be available.
I want to be a bricolager. A bricolagette even. Maybe do a little tinkering on the side. It's the MacGyver degree.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Here are some things that I think need correcting:

  • The scent they use to disinfect the bathrooms at work is that pungent fake green apple smell. I don't know. Perhaps I don't want to be thinking about the taste of Jolly Ranchers during the elimination rite. Unless, of course, I just ate a bag of them. Then I'd deserve the noxious combo.

  • When a driver approaches a busy intersection with the intent to make a left turn and doesn't pull out into the intersection (in case the only opportunity to turn comes when the light turns yellow) I think the driver directly behind The Timid One should be able to ram them gently into the correct position. Otherwise, you end up sitting through the light cycle several times while Mr. Clueless waits for a sign from god or something while I am visualizing getting out of my car, marching over to their window and explaining to them, in my most flowery language, that city driving is not for pussies like them.

  • I love Christmas. Not the shopping part. Not the god part. Just the festive, family, friends and food part. However, I have recently discovered that my allotment of holiday spirit is finite. I went to the Post Office this past Monday. Most of my shipping had been done the week before, and I just had few items left. It was 7 a.m. and I stood in line behind the blessed automatic postal machine.

    I fucking love the automatic postal machine. And I am fast. So the two people ahead of me get finished and I begin my speedy little screen input when a woman gets in line behind me with an assortment of large packages. She's just inside my personal space and her body language is screaming impatience. Oh, for fucksake, I think, you'd better hope the poor sap behind you has more patience than you do, bitch. It's here where I begin to realize that my holiday spirit could be drained before the day had even gotten started.

    I place my last item on the scale, a small gift for our host daughter and her family in Finland, and Nosy Pissypants says abruptly "You can't use the machine for International." I soon learn that she has never used the holy machine (which she doesn't deserve–the regular cattle line is already snaking outside the large post office area and that's where she belongs) and she's trying to tell me, High Priestess of Automatic Interfaces, how to use it. We are not amused. I turn to her and say, "That's funny, the screen says I CAN ship internationally." At which point I turn and press the clearly visible International button and began typing "Finland" on the keyboard...maybe a little slower than I'd been typing before her arrival.

    After I get my international stamp, I walk over to the big drop contraption and put in each regulation-sized box. On the last one, the barrel jams. I am so tempted to skip away. But I don't. I find a kindly but not confidence-inspiring postal employee and tell her that the box wasn't too big but it jammed anyway. The Procrastinating Know-It-All now standing in front the machine crabs loudly, "They didn't tell me the boxes have to fit in there!" "Well," I replied, "they do." And I felt my waning holiday spirit flutter back to life.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

how it sounds to me

Does anyone else hear Fruit of the Loom and automatically merge Fruit of the Loin with Fruit of the Womb? Anyone? This happens to me all the time.