Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Child Has Snark

The other night I went over to my brother's house after work because my nephew, Alex, had a T-Ball game.  I was holding my niece, Ainslie, age 19 months.  The age when they are just picking up words and using them in context.  Alex, age 5, was running around like a crazy kid in a Sox uniform, all excited.  Ainslie wanted to get down and run around, too.  She started to squirm.

Me:  Ainslie, do you want to get down?

Of course she wanted to get down.  I wanted her to say "down".

Ainslie:  (continues to squirm)
Me: (to my brother) Does she know the word "down"?
Scott: (shrugs) She knows "up".
Ansline: (mumbles something that might have been) Down.

I put her down.

Ainslie: (to my brother)  UP!  DOWN! UP! DOWN!

At that moment, Alex came tearing into the room, ran head first into the kitchen cabinet and landed sprawled all over the floor.  He was not hurt, and may have done it to amuse his sister in a comic book sort of way.

Ainslie:  HA HA!  DOWN!

People.  She sounded exactly like Nelson Muntz:


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekend Assignment: Rewind to #313

I’ve had a crappy sort of a day and have nothing positive to contribute to the conversation.  I’ve decided that when I have nothing positive to add to the conversation that I shall go to the backlog of Weekend Assignment topics – from before I started participating – and do them.  The first one was:

Weekend Assignment #313: Through some miracle of colliding realities, you have the opportunity to meet a fictional character, face to face. Which character would you most like to meet, and why?
Extra Credit: What question would you most like to ask that character? Extra extra credit for posting the character's likely reply!

Hm.  I've been asked about meeting historical figures a hundred times.  Fictional characters - not so much.  Here’s me running through my library:

Atticus Finch..Sherlock Holmes – no Hercule Poirot!  The Godfather..or the other Godfather.  Jacob Marley, the Vampire Lestat, Hawkeye Pierce…no.  I have not named a single woman.  Scarlett O’Hara..God, no.  Rhett Butler..but I just said women!  Garp’s mother – what was her name? (Jenny Fields). Oh! Clarice Starling..but I don’t really want to know.  Professor McGonagall!  That is a lame answer.  And no Hobbits or Jedi, either.  The Countess Olenska?  I guess if the question were, “Pick a fictional character to be your roommate”, she’d be an interesting pick.  Anne Elliott would be my “best friend” pick, I think.

OK – I’m going with Anne Elliott, from Jane Austen’s Persuasion.  And I would expect her to introduce me to Captain Wentworth, his sister and brother-in-law, the Crofts, her brother-in-law Charles, and…that’s it.  I don’t want to know the rest of her family.  There isn’t anything in particular I’d want to ask her, but I think those would be some great companions for a holiday in Bath.  You know, a couple hundred years ago.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Boycotting BP

The Chicago Tribune ran an article this weekend about the effect of the oil spill on independent owners of the BP franchises in the U.S. Many consumers are boycotting the local stations in protest over BP’s failures (for lack of a better word) in the Gulf, and the franchises are asking BP for help.

The article notes that BP doesn’t own very many gas stations in the U.S., so the boycotts are hurting local business owners much more than they are hurting BP. Here’s stuff I didn’t know:

“The biggest hit comes not from lost gas sales but from lost convenience store business. Owners like Juckniess make just pennies on a gallon of gas. But they might make up to 55 cents on a $1 cup of coffee. The margins on candy and chips are about 48 percent and 37 percent, respectively, Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores.

The boycott's impact on BP is limited. The company makes most of its money exploring and producing oil in places such as Angola, Egypt, the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

"The corner store is the face of BP, but by no means how BP gets its money," Lenard said.”

On the other hand, I personally like the concept of voting with my pocketbook. I could write to my Congressman, but I think Congress needs to hear from people that actually live in the Gulf much more than they need to hear from me.

Maybe I’ll just sneak over to my local BP for a car wash and a great big Diet Dr. Pepper.

The Wrath of...Someone

Weekend Assignment #324: America 2062

Next Tuesday is my birthday, I am not quite 50 yet, but when I was a little girl I liked to sit and imagine what the world, more specifically, America, would be like when I reached 50! Having nearly arrived at my goal age, I am now aiming for another 50 years! So, in honor of my 48th birthday, I want you to search your imaginations, and tell what I can expect in the year... 2062!
 Extra Credit: Tell me, is the world anything like you imagined it would be when you grew up? What's different? What's the same?

I have literally never tried to imagine what the world would be like in 50 years. I asked myself why not and my response was:

“Because according to Star Trek, we are hip deep in World War III right now and it is going to get worse before it gets better.  I don't want to think about it.”

I looked it up, and it was actually the Eugenics War that started in the mid-1990s. World War III wasn’t until 2026.

But the grain of truth to that snark is that so much of the sci-fi to which I was exposed as a child involved some kind of apocalyptic war somewhere in the timeline and I couldn’t stand it. I think that since I didn’t want to imagine the how we got there, I didn’t contemplate what was on the other side.

So with my utter lack of imagination on the subject, I will say that the world in 50 years will contain a device that effectively responds to the command: “Tea, Earl grey. Hot.” And there will be No More Homeless Pets.

Two Steps Back

One trip to Washington and a few thunderstorms later and Sigmund has pulled all his feathers out again.  But we learned that he liked corn on the cob.


Friday, June 25, 2010

While they Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family, by Kathryn Harrison

Book 27

I have no idea why I picked up While they Slept, by Kathryn Harrison.  While I have done my time with Capote and Bugliosi, I do not consider myself actual fan of the True Crime genre.  You know, unless Dominick Dunne was writing about it in Vanity Fair.

However.  In 1984, an 18-year old boy in Oregon beat his father, mother and 11-year old sister to death with a baseball bat.  The parents were asleep; the little sister interrupted.  His 16-year old sister, Jody, was in the house at the time.  It was a horribly abusive environment where the system failed the kids a hundred times. Mostly, this is Jody's story.

I say "mostly" because Harrison tries to do something of a dual narrative.  She seems to think that we need to know why she was so emotionally invested in the case.  The book jacket calls it, "weaving meditations of her own experience with parental abuse".  At age 20, Harrison met her father and he initiated a sexual relationship with her.  It seems to have lasted a couple of years.  I don't want to minimize her trauma, but honestly, her personal interjections ruined the book for me.

Harrison does such a great work in putting together a story from both Jody's and her brother, Billy's, perspectives.  She does her homework from the criminal case files to the files from the phychological profiles and the CFS records and the interviews with many of the players.  I think she does a fine job of separating fact from fiction from perspective.    However, her armchair psychology was just too much.  For example, Billy tells a story of his father finding him, age 7ish, wearing water wings in a pool.  His father tore the water wings off, picked him up and jumped into the pool.  He held Billy until he reached the bottom of the pool and then let go, making the boy find his own way to the top.  Then he did it over and over again.  Harrison says:

"in mistreating his son, Bill re-created the life-threatening incident in which he had been the victim.  Five years after he'd been pulled, paralyzed, from the lake in Eugene, he forcibly rehearsed Billy's entry into and exit from the water, in order to "make him a man".  Perhaps the scenario wasn't as it seemed to Billy, conceived to punish and terrorize him.  It may be that his father was in the thrall of an inexorable psychic demand that he prove and reprove his own manhood, in the form of his small namesake's ability to save himself from drowning."

Puleeze.

I was really impressed by Jody's story.  She, also, worked hard to separate fact from fiction from perspective.  She owns the fact that her brother's actions, in a way, set her free from a horrible life.  She and Harrison share a life view of Before and After trauma.  It is as though the Before person is dead and the After is a rebirth.  This is why I really like her:

Billy was appealing his case on the grounds that the abuse he suffered was never submitted as evidence in his original trial.  He wanted Jody's help.  Jody doesn't want her brother released from jail.  She thinks he is a fundamentally violent creature and has said she is afraid of what he will do to her if he is released.  But she read the transcripts of the trial and determined that he was absolutely right in thinking that something was omitted from the evidence - something that the jury should have known in order to make a fair decision.  She personally testified as her own lawyer advised - answer only the questions that are asked and don't offer up anything.  So by omission, her own testimony made worse the injustice.  When the book was written, she planned to help correct the record.  Whatever the consequences, she values the truth.

You know what?  That's the story I wanted to read.  I'm gonna go Google it now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Driving

The Trib ran an article about the decline in 16 year olds that have driver’s licenses. The point seemed to be a Rah-rah for Illinois stricter standards for the under-18 crowd to earn them, as there has been a drop in crash fatalities. What I found interesting was the rationale of the teenagers that are waiting.


When I was 16, there was nothing. more. important. Than having a driver’s license. Nothing on Earth. For serious. Factoring in that my dad gave me his old Bronco, my parents paid for gas and insurance and I had an over-developed desire for independence - I loved driving more than anything.

So I was really interested to hear that these kids aren’t quite bothering to go through the process:

“Waiting until they turn 18 is a way for teens to opt out of graduated driver licensing. In Illinois and many other states, when an individual turns 18, he or she can walk in to a driver's license facility, pass the road, written and eye tests and walk out with a license.”

Well. That just seems lazy to me.

However, many kids said that since they can’t afford a car anyway, why bother to jump through the hoops. Some won’t have the permit hours completed. That one makes sense to me – what parent has 50 hours of time to sit in the passenger seat with a kid. Factor in that some parents are really bad at this – such that it is just better for the kid not to drive with that parent – and a great big part of the burden falls on one person.

So they have friends that drive. Or they ride their bikes. One kid said he goes everywhere on rollerblades. Good for them, I think.

But I’ve been driving for 20 years and still..there are few things that make me as happy as the open road.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hotel Housekeeping

USA Today ran an article in the Travel section on a topic that's been getting some buzz: hotels trying to reduce costs by reducing housekeeping service.  Different hotels are trying different things, but as far as I can tell, it started with hotels asking if it was ok to not change the bed linens every day.  There was some obscenely high number for how many gallons of water were used, so in general we all said, "That's fine."  The consensus of opinion among my co-workers -  a population of pretty heavy travelers - is that fresh linens every three days is perfectly reasonable.  We sheepishly allow that we kinda like fresh towels every day.  We seem to be in line here:

"Bjorn Hanson, of New York University, says customers aren't buying the industry's "green" argument but are generally accepting modest cutbacks in housekeeping. "The long-term trend (for companies) is to look for ways to make hotels more affordable and accessible," he says."

Back in January, I wrote about a "No Housekeeping" pilot program that the Sheraton Seattle was running.  I was left feeling rather negative.  And while at the time I thought, "points for trying something new", I'm starting to feel like it is some kind of lab experiment to see when we, as travelers, start to scream.

The airlines found it to be somewhere between, "pay for priority boarding" and "pay to use the airplane bathroom".

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

No One Outside the 847 Area Code Will Care About This

"Retrofitting suburbia" has to be the lamest new catchphrase I have heard in a long time, but the Trib just wrote about the redevelopment of the Randhurst Mall in Mount Prospect.

The short version is they demolished the entire shopping mall (save Carson's and Bed Bath and Beyond) to redevelop the area:

"in an act of radical design surgery, Randhurst is being remade into an open-air, mixed-use development that will have many features of a traditional downtown, including shops, movie theaters, offices and a hotel."

You know what that sounds like to me?  The Glen Town Center.  Built on the site of the old Glenview Naval Air Station, I was determined to forever hate this...suburban retrofitting.  But I love it.  You know how much time I spend there?  Click on that link.  You'll probably find my car in the picture.

Anyway, I've been keeping an eye on Randhurst and was last there two or three weeks ago.  They are far enough along that I have officially declared it not worth going to Carson's until they are done.  It is too hard to find a reasonable (read as: safe) place to park.  But what interested me in this article is the debate going on in Mount Prospect about whether this "retrofitting" (ok, the word is growing on me) will draw people away from the traditional downtown area - by the railroad station.

Glenview had the same debate over the Glen Town Center.  If memory serves, the biggest stink was over moving the Post Office to a new building near the new development.  We all wanted the second train station.  But oh, the drama of moving the post office away from the sacred Glenview Road.  The parking is much better now.

I believe - I'm not sure, but I believe - Glenview has gotten over it and we all enjoy our Main Street with an Air Traffic Control Tower (that Main Street is actually called Tower Road). 

Ooh!  Tangent!  The first time I took my friend Austin there, I nearly gave him a heart attack.  His Dad is an officer and he grew up on the base.  So we were sitting in Starbucks and he was all disconcerted about what used to be where.  I said, "Yeah, Dude.  We could be sitting in your old living room right now." He about dropped his coffee.  So then I felt terrible and said, "No!  We aren't really in your living room!  Look!  The Tower is right across the street.  We're, like, on the runway or something!"

I don't think that made him feel better. 

Anyway.  The only grumblings I hear are about the tax revenue from the new development.  Something about a deal that was cut to encourage people to come here, and the suggestion that they still aren't paying the same taxes as the rest of us.

Whatever.  I can honestly point to the Glen Town Center and say that was when I started to love my town again.  I think Mt. Prospect is going to do great.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chicago, by Studs Terkel

Book 26


I snagged a charming hardcover copy of Studs Terkel’s Chicago from the Little City Book Sale. It is a mishmash of short essays - the jacket called it “a long prose poem” – pulled together in the mid-1980s. I think I am going through a phase with Chicago history. There is a PBS series called “Remembering Chicago” or something that I am getting a pretty big kick out of, too. I love these stories.  Also, Terkel died not that long ago, as did legendary Chicago journalist Mike Royko.  I figured I had better see what the fuss was all about.  I read Royko's short biography of Maredaley last year.

Here is the truth: I am not a real Chicagoan. Not even because I grew up in the suburbs. Because my parents are…non-native. My father grew up in New York and his family is from California. My mother grew up in Ohio and her family is from Michigan. We were here for the Blizzard of 1979, but not the one in 1967, so we cannot claim to be Chicagoans. Permanent residents, perhaps. But not Chicagoans.

(Sigh.)

My favorite part is Terkel writing about the unveiling of the Picasso. He went around asking people what they thought. What it was. A woman. A dog. “somethin’ ya ate last night that didn’t agree with ya”. An Austrian lady laughed at that one, then asked the guy:

“Vass you ever in the Louvre?”
"What is it?”
“The best art museum in the vorld.”
His civic pride was challenged. “We got one here on Michigan. The one with the lions. Don’t tell me about art.”

Or how about that Blizzard in 1967. Terkel is writing about how everyone was in a good mood and helping each other out for those three days. Drinking a bunch, but. You know. Terkel asked a cop what he thought about the weather.

“No comment.”

I love this stuff.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Birdie Bread

Several people at the Refuge have asked for my “recipe” for Birdie Bread, because Birdie Bread is the best way to trick fussy birds into eating their vegetables. I kept saying, “You just grind up some vegetables and toss them into your cornbread mix”. Apparently, this is not a satisfactory answer. So here we go:

Ingredients

1 Box Cornbread mix (I generally use Jiffy, but this time I used Martha White), plus mix ingredients
1 handful of baby carrots, washed
1 handful of cut broccoli, washed
1 handful of cut cauliflower, washed (optional)
1 container of sweet potato baby food (I used Gerber, Phase 2)



It should be noted that when it is on sale, I just buy a bag of cut vegetables. Today, broccoli crowns were on sale, so I grabbed one. Because Sigmund prefers the “tree” of the broccoli to the “leaf”, I cut the tops off the trees. Then I tossed them into my mini food processor. Next, I grabbed a handful of baby carrots from the bag and did the same thing. Tossed it all in a mixing bowl.  Then I poured the baby food on top.

Side Note:  The deal with the baby food is that sweet potatoes are really good for birds (and people) because they have a lot of vitamins. Karen, the volunteer director at the Refuge, swears that you can get any bird to start eating vegetables by mashing a sweet potato, mixing it with peanut butter and serving it in a cup.

Kiwi still won’t eat it.

But cooking a sweet potato for the purpose of making Birdie Bread annoys me, so I use baby food. But here is the trick – the baby food has water in it, so you have to be careful that you don’t have too much liquid in the cornbread mix. So what I did was poured the mix powder on top of the vegetables and then added milk until I was satisfied with the consistency. It looks like this:


Then I put the batter in cupcake cups, as a matter of portion control and ease of serving. I cook it according to the instructions on the box, but remember that the fresh vegetables have water in them, too. So I wait until the muffins are visibly golden brown before I am convinced they are done.



And here is Sigmund stuffing his face with the finished product. Kiwi feeds them to the dog.



Further notes:

African Greys are notorious for needing extra calcium, so I use milk in the batter even when the mix says water is ok. Also, if you use a powder calcium supplement, you can bake that in too. Rich, the Director at the Refuge, says that if the mix uses eggs (Jiffy’s does) you should grind the egg shell up with the vegetables and bake that in, too. Just make sure to gently wash the egg before doing so.

This recipe made 12 muffins and in my experience they will last up to two weeks if you keep them in the refrigerator. I don’t know whether they freeze well. I generally give a Grey one muffin at a time, broken into pieces. At least half of that ends up on the floor. I am considering getting a mini-muffin pan.

Back on the Organic Gummy Bears

You might recall my incredulous response to the concept of Organic Gummy Bears at nutsonline.com, made even more incredulous by the fact that they were sold out.  I checked again with my next order and they were back.  $2.50 for a sample bag:



They look like this:



The texture and consistency are right on.  The flavors are a bit..strange..and not as sweet.  Which might be a good thing, depending on your taste.  But they aren't bad any way I look at it.  The calories are about comparable, according to thecaloriecounter.com.  But these organics have a full day's supply of Vitamin C!

I don't make a habit of eating gummy bears, and I am hardly impressed with the organics movement.  But whoever came up with this did a good job.

Now let's see them make green ones.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Some Bad News

I went to the Trib to catch the latest on the storm that came through this afternoon.  I heard there were some scary power lines down in Des Plaines.  I caught a link about a fire destroying a building in Palatine.  It was a charity resale shop belonging to the Wings program.  It stands for Women in Need Growing Stronger and it provides emergency assistance and shelter for homeless and abused women and children.

Wings runs three retail shops in the suburbs - the other two are in Schaumburg and Niles.  If you have the opportunity this weekend, I am sure they could use all the donations - and shoppers! - they can get.

Play Time Travel

Weekend Assignment #323: Vacation Time

Look out - here comes summer! Kids are out of school, community pools and seasonal ice cream stands are open, and temperatures north of the Equator are on the rise. Summer is traditionally the time for families to go on vacation together. What are your summer vacation plans, if any? What time of year are you most likely to pack up the family and get out of town? Is there a particular place you go more often than anywhere else?
 Extra Credit: When and where did your family usually go on vacation when you were a kid?
 
I will be going on vacation by myself, thank you very much.  I have a trip to Toronto planned for next month.  A few things came together at the same time.  First, United Airlines gave me a certificate of a certain dollar amount as compensation for a big hassle on my last vacation.  Second, I was just in New Orleans last summer.  And third, I have been meaning to go see Niagara Falls for years and not gotten to it.  From Toronto, I can pick up one of those cute little day tours.
 
While the summer vacation has always been a big deal for me, this year I took my first real winter vacation.  Mid-February, to Hawaii and it was fabulous on top of the fabulous because the warm weather was just enough to get me through the rest of the Chicago winter.
 
When I was a kid, my parents had a cabin in the woods in Wisconsin.  We were always there in the summer.  While most of my best childhood memories are from trips to Wisconsin, as an adult, I feel like I am making up for lost time in the Seeing New Places department. 
 
Is it too early to start planning for next year?

Chance Occurrence, by Kristin Shaver


Book 25

I read Chance Occurrence, a screenplay available on the Kindle, because Kristin Shaver is my friend.  She helped me cram for my Biology final when I had barely attended a lecture all semester.  She always had a stash of trashy romance novels for when I was brain fried.  And she was a good drunk.

It's that second one that I was worried about when I opened this up.  30-something singleton who has always played it safe has a near miss car accident and a bad day at work before deciding to start her dream business with her best friend and a handsome stranger.  While it is a bit more Lifetime Movie that my usual read, I enjoyed it.  But she asked for constructive criticism, so (deep breath) here it goes:

I am all about character development and I missed some things with the supporting characters.  At the top of my list was the heroine's mother.  I am absolutely fascinated by the different ways that first generation Americans assimilate or don't into the culture.  Kristin starts to go there, but the plot is moving too fast to linger.  I think that might be the nature of the beast when you are dealing with a screenplay as opposed to a novel.

The Stranger wasn't quite creepy enough for me.  I am thinking that might also be something that doesn't quite translate into a screenplay.  When I think about seeing it cinematically, it works better, but I really have to think about it.

Overall, I am happy to say it was a really good piece and I am looking forward to seeing what Kristin does next. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Dahlia Connection, by Michael Dovell

Book 24

The Dahlia Connection, by Michael Dovell, was one of the souvenir books I picked up in Seattle. Since I told Weekend Assignment that my summer reading goal was to get through them all, I figured I had better get started.


A middle-aged, semi-retired lottery winner sees a beautiful young lady thrown from a green Lamborghini in Pike Place Market. He rescues her, takes her home, sleeps with her for a couple of days and decides he is in love. Mr. Green Lamborghini comes back for her. He’s a bad New York mafia type. (Rolls eyes.)

There are two interesting things about this book. First there is the character that is The Market. Dovell knows it well, obviously loves it, and that shows. Second is that he uses a device that I appreciate: the mystery girl is talked about quite a bit by the narrator as he is trying to remember things she has told him and separate fact from fiction. But we never see her. We never actually hear her story for ourselves. We can never quite judge her for ourselves. He pulled that off.

The problem for me was that I found the narrator incredibly unlikeable. He is a total schmuck. His favorite words are “Focus!” – a command to himself – and “synapses”. As in, “my synapses are loose”, which is the most pretentious way I have ever heard to say that one wasn’t thinking straight. Also decidedly unlikeable, in my opinion, was the way (SPOILERS HERE) that he manipulated an emotionally handicapped acquaintance into killing a bad guy. It was a really bad guy. But still. That was disgusting.

I appreciated the descriptions of the different supporting characters, and the workings of the Public Market. But if it weren’t Seattle Souvenir thing, there would be no good reason for me to read this book.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

King Charles

On Sunday, I went by the Rescue to drop off the paperwork from Sigmund's trip to the vet.  I ran into Karen, our volunteer director.  She told me about a puppy that a Petland store relinquished to her employer (a veterinarian) because he was ill.  Having trouble kicking a case of kennel cough.  A 5-month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel - free to a good home.

I told my mother about him.  You know, just in case. 

Yesterday, she sent me an e-mail saying that she has a co-worker that might want him.  She asked for a picture.  After 24 hours of back and forth, I have a picture and this puppy has a new home.  They are picking him up this weekend.



Yeah.  I know a King Charles puppy is not the most difficult placement.  But I feel good about it.  The moral of the story, gang, is that this networking stuff works.

Even More Cupcakes

So I was in Stefphanie's office and I said, "I am going to require sugar this afternoon.  Which really ticks me off because yesterday I did not need it and that's when the cupcake truck came."

She said, "I think the other cupcake truck is still here."

The other cupcake truck.  Sweet Bites Desserts.  Oh, for God's sake.  Here we go:



Similar packaging.



Similar look.

Same flavor: Vanilla.  Same price: $3.00. 

Verdict?  The cake was dryer - not as good.  Frosting was lighter - more like whipped cream.  I liked that better.  Stefphanie says there is a cupcake bakery a couple of Metro stops away.  I guess I'll have to try it next time.

30 Day TV Meme - Day 30

Day 30 - Saddest character death



I could make an argument that Leo McGarry's death on The West Wing was the saddest.  The character had a heart attack the season before and then the actor dired of a heart attack, so they made the character die of a second heart attack.  It was all very traumatizing.  However, how much of that was brilliant writing and how much was the offscreen tragedy is subject to debate. 

Henry Blake's death at the end of  M*A*S*H's 3rd season is the answer.  Everyone knew the actor wasn't coming back and the episode begins with Henry getting his orders to go home.  The entire show is a Goodbye Party.  At the end, he is all in his civvies and getting on a chopper and there is Radar saluting him.  You could cry right there.

Then they come back from commercial and everyone else is in the OR and Radar comes in with a telegram that says Blake's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.  There were no survivors. 

They didn't tell the actors beforehand, so when you see them all crying - that was one take and all natural.  But you might have missed it while you were reaching for the Kleenex.

Thus ends my 30 Day TV Meme.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Freedom From Religion Foundation

The Chicago Tribune ran an article today about a campaign the Freedom From Religion Foundation is running in the city.  I clicked on it thinking of my friend Bill, a self-described Recovering Catholic who has been writing about skepticism lately.  Apparently, the Foundation has purchased advertising space on city buses to spread their gospel.  75 of the signs encourage people to skip church and sleep in.   I absolutely agree with the Foundation's co-president when he says that, "What the world really needs is a good night's sleep".

At the end of the article, we are asked, "Should passengers be encouraged to skip church and sleep or is the ad campaign just rude?"

Hm.  Um..neither?

You know what I think?  I think that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is not going to change any minds with this campaign.  They might rattle a few cages and they might make a few people smile.  But I can't imagine this is going to forward their mission any.  Wait.  What is their mission?  From their website:

"The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., is an educational group working for the separation of state and church. Its purposes, as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism." 

It seems to me they just spent an awful lot of money on something that doesn't seem particularly educational or promotional on the separation of Church and State.  Although.  They did just get me to visit their website.  And blog about it.  And link to it.

But I'm not giving them any money.

More About the Cupcakes

As I was saying, Washington DC has gone cupcake crazy and I kept missing the Curbside Cupcake truck.  The last time I was here, someone in our office even ordered them for a meeting and I still missed them.  So I flew in on Monday morning, and right when I arrived I marched over to Marsha's office and demanded that she summon the cupcake truck.  She went online and told me that it would be at our building on Tuesday afternoon.

This morning, she brought over the menu, so that I would know exactly what kind of cupcakes would be there today.  As I was leaving for lunch, she reminded me not to be pokey, because the truck would be there by the time I got back.  And so it was.  I could see it from my window.  There were about a dozen people in line when I got there.



Three bucks for a cupcake.  That's called A Trip to Starbucks, people.  It came in a little lunch bag, so you have to take care not to smush your frosting.



And it looks like this:



I ordered the Classic Vanilla.  Normal sized cupcake with a cute swirl of frosting.  It sure doesn't look like anything spectacular.  The verdict?

The cake was the best tasting cupcake I have ever had in my life.  The frosting was...too much.  It felt like eating butter.  To be fair, I was a true frosting person as a child.  I seem to have outgrown it.  I keep forgetting that I have outgrown it.  So I have a habit of eating the bottom part first, thus doubling up on the amount of frosting I am eating with the top part.

You can't do that.

A three dollar cupcake is pretty steep, but for a once a week treat, I can see it.  But I am not Friending (or Liking or Following or whatever) them on Facebook.

30 Day TV Meme - Day 29

Day 29 - Current t.v show obsession


Now that Lost is over, (and 24 in its day) my only dealbreaker - the only "do not call when it is on" show - is a Bears game.

My aunt Bev is a football fan of the NCAA variety, but she knows the rules. She has been known to watch a Bears game so that she knows when it is halftime and thus safe to call my house. Since halftime only lasts 15 minutes, I think it is also the way she knows that she will not get tied up on the phone.

My brother and I have been know to call each other at halftime just to shout at someone about how great (or crappy) a game it is. Then it's all, "OK, bye" and I get this from my mother:

Her: "Was that Scott?"

Me: "Yes."

Her: "Well, what did he have to say?"

Me: "That Lovey Smith is wasting Devin Hester's talent and Brian Urlacher is clearly still in pain."

Her: "But what are the kids doing?"

Me: "Umm. Watching the game with him?"

Her: "Well, is he coming over next weekend?"

Me: "Dude. Call him yourself. But not now. Game on."

Monday, June 14, 2010

30 Day TV Meme - Day 28

Day 28 - First t.v show obsession

The real answer is Dallas.  For discussion purposes, let's say Voyagers!   I thought I had written about it when it came out on DVD, but I can't seem to find it.  The premise was time traveller guy that...travels through time and fixes history.  An orphaned kid's dog ate his guide book, so the kid travels through time with him.  And acts as his walking history book.
Yeah.  It only lasted one season.  And I was..what..seven years old?  But this show rocked my world and I had a ginormous kid-crush on that Jon-Erik Hexum.  He was so fab that I followed him to his next show, a private investigator show called Cover Up.  He famously, accidentally killed himself with a prop gun.  Not sure I'm going to watch that one on DVD.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

30 Day TV Meme - Day 27

Day 27 - Best pilot episode


This is tough because they are getting better at this every year.  Studio 60 had one of the best pilots ever but Sorkin couldn't keep it up so as to keep his audience, so I can't count it.  Similarly, the first time I ever watched a pilot thinking, "This is the coolest thing I have ever seen" was Twin Peaks, which also couldn't uphold the standard.
 
24 did.  And so did Lost.  I am picking Lost as the official answer because it drew me in with character development as much as OMG action.  You see Jack Shepard the Hero on the island, taking care of everyone in crisis mode, and then you flashback to his real life where you can see right from the start that he is kind of an ass.  And you think, "I hope he gets to go home, be happy and be a better person."  And whatever the action, whatever the mythology, that is really what the show was about.
 
I'm going to miss that one.

Return Trip

Yesterday morning, I kinda wanted to go back to the Little City Book Sale. There were so many tables that I missed and a bunch of inventory that they hadn’t even brought out yet. I figured if I got there right when it opened, I could get out before the crowd grew too big.


So I looked at my bookcase and said that if I could purge some right now, that I would go back. Between my TBR and my old books I found a dozen or so to donate to the library. Not enough to actually solve my space problem, but that wasn’t my mental deal.

I arrived a good 15 minutes before it opened and stood in line before the place opened. I was actually reading a book, and people were trying to talk to me. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, because I was still just a little bit embarrassed to be there. Who needs to go to the same book sales twice?  I was hoping I wouldn’t run into anyone I know. Anyone that reads my blog and would know that I was here last weekend.

So we went in and I hit the spots I needed to hit and only had four books in my bag. I was about to leave when it started pouring. Hm. I went over to the Mystery tables to look for that Megan Abbott book. I nearly walked into my friend Kris. I haven’t actually seen her in a few years, but we keep up online. And she reads the blog. Crap. Then I remembered:

She was here last weekend, too. And her cart had three times as many books as I had. Although, she reads three times faster than I do.

Heh. It reminded me of a story from high school: one morning either because I was running late or because I had no clean clothes, I wore an old Bears jersey to school. I normally wore it to bed. I thought, “I don’t care. No one is going to know, anyway.” The first person I ran into that morning was Kris. Who knew. But what was this? She was wearing an old maroon, button down shirt of her dad’s. It was embroidered with his initials. She was wearing her pajamas to school, too! It was a kind of, “Let’s never speak of this again” moment. Until we got to first period and told everyone we knew.

So we caught up a bit, which was nice. And totally justified my return trip.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Will Not Be Joining the Movement

You know, the Going Green Movement. 

I have plenty of reusuable bags and while I don't use them in every store on every day, I certainly use them for groceries.  I made an effort to understand the ins and outs of home recycling and even posted about it.  In fact, now that I am looking at it, this is the 17th time I have posted something under my Green tag.

I believe I have mentioned my daily calender for 2010 is 365 little ways to go green.  They aren't all little.  And here is where I draw the bloody line:

June 3:  "Make sure you are not overheating bedrooms at night.  Not only is it a waste of energy, it's considered unhealthy to sleep in a room that is too warm.  Keep the thermostat at about 59 (degrees) F for adults and 64 (degrees) F for children and the elderly."

First of all, people, if you use the "don't sleep in a room that is too warm" argument, it hardly helps the A/C problem in the summer.  And it is summer, so this advice is coming at the wrong time for the United States.   Was it published in Australia?  No.  Wisconsin.  But more importantly - 59 degrees?!  The thermostat in my house is set at 69 in the winter and I still sleep under layers of flannel and down alternative.  The other day when the temperature dropped, my house got down to 67 and I could barely get out of bed.  I nearly turned the heat back on.  In June.  And 64 for children?  Puleeze.

It is recommendations like this that ensure I will never really be able to get on the Bandwagon.

Progress

I just went to the Refuge site to check the old photo of Sigmund (he is listed under his nickname, "Ziggy").  Then I had to run downstairs to take a crappy camera phone shot.  'Cause look at the difference:



You know, mine is not close to the perfect home for him.  He only gets out for a couple of hours a day and he really isn't fond of Little Miss Bossy (that would be Kiwi).  But if we can make this kind of progress by getting him settled and content, can you imagine what will happen when he finds the perfect family?

And P.S.:  He is thisclose to being able to whistle the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show. 

Summer Day Off

And this is when my Summer Days Off become more hectic than actually going to work.

First, a double appointment at the vet for Kiwi the Grey and her foster brother, Sigmund.  Both are in excellent health.  A lady in the waiting room, who had adopted from the Refuge, told me that Kiwi is just beautiful.  Do you know what I said?

"Well, thank you.  She certainly thinks so."

Her feathers are near perfect.  She is flighted and takes good care of them.  She also grooms her beak and nails, so the vet tech didn't have to take out the Dremel drill.  She is very vain.  And apparently, very hormonal.  This is the time of year when she thinks about laying eggs and the doctor confirmed that her vent is dilated.  Ugh.

Kiwi is normally a very sweet girl.  Mischievous, but sweet.  When she lays eggs, she becomes a holy terror.  I shall remind you with a picture from two years ago:



She is charging the camera for daring to invade the space.  She would have killed, I am certain.

Sigmund, of course, is a chronic feather picker.  I saw his file - he has been a chronic feather picker for at least six years.  Now he has feathers growing in.  Feathers!  The doctor's notes said, "Keep up the excellent care."  Double underlined!

So I brought them home, fed them and headed out for a quick lap around Lake Glenview before a lunch meeting for the Used Book Store.  I may have mentioned that the new library is nearly finished.  They expect to shut down operations in mid-August for the move - re-openeing in mid-September.  Our little core group was looking at blueprints and debating the set up.  I was advocating simplicity.  I just don't think all of our volunteers are interested in resorting and shelving and knowing the difference between espionage/thriller/whodunnits in the Mystery section.  But I don't really care.  The thing I am willing to fight about:

"I want an entirely separate section for Political Commentary.  No more Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh shall pollute the History section!"

There is another debate about whether to shelve trade paperbacks in the same space as the hardcovers.  I would put them together.  As a consumer, I like them together.  Not willing to argue about that, either.  We went on like this for two hours and solved...not much.  But it is finally starting to feel real.  We are going to get there!

After the meeting, I went to Costco.  I have been putting off a trip for weeks because I refuse to go on the weekend.  Yesterday I learned that I also can't go on a Friday.  No kidding.  It is as bad as Saturday.  The produce looked great, though.

That night, I was in the family room with the birds and my mother went to the kitchen to do dishes for the third time that night.  Kiwi jumped from the perch, flew straight to her shoulder and bit her ear.  Badly.

Apparently, Kiwi's cranky hormonal fits have something to do with the kitchen sink.  Thus ended my fabulous day off.

30 Day TV Meme - Day 26

Day 26 - OMG WTF? Season finale


Since we are saying Season Finale as opposed to Series Finale, the answer is Bobby in the Shower.
 
For those that don't know the story of the star-crossed lovers in Dallas:
 
Bobby and Pam were the Romeo and Juliet.  Warring families and all.  Bobby wore the white hat in the family, where J.R. wore the black hat.  J.R. tried a thousand things to try to break them up.  Then after a season of Bobby and J.R. fighting for control of the family business, Pam decided that Bobby had turned to the Dark Side and left him.
 
My heart was broken.
 
So Bobby went back to his childhood sweetheart, played by Priscilla Presley, and Pam found a really nice guy.  But it was all so wrong.  They finally figured it out at the end of season...8 I think? They got back together for about ten minutes before Bobby was promptly run over by a car driven by Pam's crazy half-sister, Katherine.  Died.  The actor wanted out. 
 
Got all that?
 
So.  Nightmare of a season without Bobby.  At the end, Pam was back together with the nice guy.  I think she might have even married him.  The end of the season was Pam waking up one morning and going into the bathroom.  Her man is in the shower.  She opens the door to greet him....and it's Bobby.  He says, "Good morning."
 
And that was it.  Dude was dead one season ago today and now he is in her shower.  Go to black.  I screamed like a little girl.
 
I was a little girl, actually.
 
Forget the "it was all a dream" thing.  The beauty of this one was how they seriously kept it a secret.  The acress that played Pam didn't know what was going on - they were filmed separately.  The crew that filmed him thought it was a shampoo commercial or something.  There were theories on WTF all summer long.
 
So many cliffhangers are...well....cliffhangers.  Did he or didn't he die?  Or...how many people died?  This was different.  All hopeful.   It was beautiful.
 
For one more season until Pam was gone.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Product of My Affection

Weekend Assignment #322: Product Placement

Okay, let's shift gears to something very commonplace. Product Placement. We all have a certain product in our lives we simply couldn't live without. Tell us about your favorite product. How long have you used it? Why is it the best? If it were no longer on the market, what would you use instead? Give us all the details!


Extra Credit: Time to get creative. Take a photo of your favorite product!

Since I will not be taking a picture of my American Express card, I am going with my car. So very suburban of me, I know. I drive a Saturn Vue. Yes, I do need an SUV. At the time I bought her, I had two sixty pound dogs and I took them places. Now, I also cart around birds and books for my volunteering gigs. Not to mention the four-wheel drive that is rather convenient in a Chicago winter.

Since she is seven years old and they have stopped making this car, I have given some thought to what I will do when I drop her transmission on Route 53. The Ford Escape seems the only logical conclusion. But what would I do if I simply couldn’t drive anymore?

Hm.

I guess I’d have to move to the city.

This is a picture of my car from the winter before last.  I was blogging about this awesome phenomenon in Chicago, where on the first clear Saturday we all go to the car wash.  Sit in the queue for 45 minutes for the privilege of paying 10 bucks to wash the road salt off our vehicles.  Personally, I stop at the ladies room and pick up a Big Gulp before getting in line.


30 Day TV Meme - Day 25

Day 25 - A show you plan on watching (old or new)

Someday.  Someday, I will watch Highlander: The Series.  When the last movie came out, I went with my brother and he had to fill me in on Duncan's story.  I rather liked the character.  Drama with the ticked off wife amused me.  It just hasn't been a priority yet.

But someday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wild Swans, by Jung Chang


Book 23

Wild Swans is categorized as "Women's Studies/Asian Studies".  I would call it the 100 year history of a Chinese family from the ladies' perspective.  Jung Chang was born in 1952 and grew up under Mao's regime.  Her parents were early participants in the Revolution.  Her grandmother had been the concubine of a warlord.

In the beginning, it was all about the subjugation of women with the footbinding and the selling of twelve year olds.  Then, the old warlord died and the grandmother married an older doctor - a very good man.  As we get through the childhood of the author's mother, we see the beginning of the Communist  Revolution.

The ideology was fascinating and the shared ideas and arguments of the parents made the political issues personal.  It was really well written.  As the Communists took power for real, the Changs climbed the ladder.  Jung Chang was one of the privileged, but her parents were among the honest ones.  She was taught to work hard, study hard, blahblahblah.  Then the Cultural Revolution ruined them and I really remembered why I hate Communism.

It's things like this:  a kid goes to join the army to fight the Japenese.  He happens to run into the Kuomintang before he runs into the Communists.  He joins them.  He thinks, "What difference does it make as long as I am fighting the Japanese?"

Ha.

At best, the answer is, "You will never have a decent job in your life."  At worst, you will be "persecuted to death".  Tortured, starved, brainwashed....

The scariest thing to me in the history was the"indoctrination" of schoolchildren.  Propaganda day in and day out.  The scariest thing to me personally was Chang talking about her father's persecution driving him to madness.  He actually started hearing voices while in prison.  Even after his release he was hounded and she tells of the day when the book burning types made him burn all of his books.  She remembers him doing it.  She had never seen him cry before.

I was sick.

This was a pick for my book club.  I wouldn't have chosen it myself.  I am glad that I read it.  But I am also glad I am finished.

30 Day TV Meme - Day 24

Day 24 - Best quote


Ugh. Asking for one quote from a gazillion hours of television is insane. Right now I can’t think of anything but “the wrath of the whatever high up on the thing” that I posted from The West Wing. The West Wing had a thousand of them! Hang on….

I’ve always liked Eric Cartman’s “Screw you guys. I’m goin’ home.”

And of course, “Oh my God! They killed Kenny!” “You bastards!” gets a lot of mileage.

Ohhhh. And “You. Will. Respect mah authoritay!”

That’s the one.

When did I stop watching South Park?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Anne's Law - Book Sales

As I was saying, the Little City Book Sale has confirmed in my mind the need for some ground rules at these events. Because I am old and cranky. Book Sales are very crowded, so the Spirit of the Law is to do your best to stay out of other people’s way. Respect personal space. Keep it moving along. To be specific:


1. Be aware of what is going on around you. You’re supposed to be browsing, not losing yourself in a book. That’s why they don’t have cushy chairs. If you want to stop and chat with your friends, step outside the aisles. Or better yet, go to Starbucks.

2. Keep your stuff with you at all times. Don’t put your pile of books down on the other books such that the rest of us can’t tell which you are setting aside to buy, and can’t see the books that are for sale. Don’t set your bag down on the table and for the love of Dickens don’t leave your drink lying around, either. We don’t want to touch your stuff. We don’t want it in our way, either.

3. This goes double if you are using a cart. I am not a fan of shopping carts at books sales, but I know how many people are seriously filling them up. God Bless. But seriously, anyone with a cart is taking up three times as much space as the average person. That makes it three times as likely that you and your stuff are in the way. Keep it with you all the time. Anyone who leaves their cart in the middle of the aisle and walks away to browse should be required to relinquish custody of said cart and wear a dunce cap for the remainder of the day.

4. Hygiene is important. Sometimes we really are jammed in there like cattle, so don’t be the stinky kid in class. By that I mean body odor, perfume, cigarette smoke and you would not believe the stench of hair care products these days.

5. It is absolutely ok to be slow. To browse the books. To read the back of every last one. Just be aware of what is going on around you. Can you take a step to one side or another to let someone by? And if someone is parked in front of you, go around. The books don’t have to be right in front of your face to see the titles. And if you need to reach across someone, just say “Excuse me.”

6. We all know the extra books are in boxes under the table. We have all found some gems down there. If you are pulling up books because there is room on the table; well, heck you are doing the volunteers a favor. But if you are in high traffic with your head under the tarp and your butt in the air, you are not going to be aware of what is going on around you.

7. I am very sorry to say this, but the big book sales are no place for children. Seriously. I was at the Little City sale for 90 minutes and didn’t hit close to 100% of the tables. And I am quick. Even if you have really well-behaved kids, 90 minutes on their feet in a tent is too much to ask anyone under 10. And even a 10 year old would have to be pretty committed to the Cause of Reading to stand it. I saw a woman yelling at her 4-year old: “Will you be quiet?! We are looking at books!!” No, lady. You are looking at books. The kid is stuck in the cart looking at this warehouse of a tent.

8. Be careful with the books. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean that no one will. Don’t jam them in so the pages bend. Don’t drop them on a different table because you have changed your mind. Don’t leave your iced coffee so the condensation causes water damage. (Yeah, I’m bitter about that one.)

9. Don’t argue with the staff. At Little City and the library sales, these are volunteers raising money for charity. If you think they have made a mistake, just ask politely. If you don’t like the answer, you don’t buy the book. Don’t be a pain.

10. Bring your own bags. First, they take up less space while you are shopping than baskets. Second, if it is a charity book sale, either the bags cost them money or they have a limited supply that volunteers have scavenged from their own homes. And third. You know, go green.

I don’t want to sound like I don’t want you there. I do. Really. I like to know that other people appreciate books. I like that Little City and my library and other charities are raising funds this way. If there wasn’t a crowd, there’s something wrong with the business model and they might just all quit and that would suck.

But please. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

30 Day TV Meme - Day 23

Day 23 - Most annoying character

The real answer is Frank Burns from M*A*S*H, but:

I hated Izzy Stevens before you did.  It is not too terribly far from the truth to suggest that this chick ruined Grey's Anatomy for me.  While she had a couple of decent Doctor Moments, she was generally a train wreck of bad decisions.  She whined, she fell in love with a patient, she made people around her dumber.

And OMG, the Katherine Heigl drama.  Between the saying one damned thing about Isaiah Washington and withdrawing her name from the Emmys, and this season submitting her name to the Emmys.  Ugh.

Remember when Shannen Doherty was on 90210 and the line blurred between disliking her and disliking her character until we wanted to spit every time we saw her face?  It's like that.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Austin

My friend Austin is a Cancer survivor.  Several years ago, in the thick of treatment, he started using the blog tool at Carepages, a great website for patient outreach.  It was a way for him to express himself in a safe forum, as well as keeping his friends and family up to date on his progress.  The posts tapered off as his active treatment wound down.

But he still has stuff to say, so he started up a page on Blogger.  And stalled out.  But he was still writing and even participating in local readings.  Every once in a while, he would write something and post it on the Notes app in Facebook.  And every time, I would be all:

Dooooooode......you have a real blog.  Why are you tooling around on the Facebook???

And now he is back on Blogger and I am plugging him so he will be forced to keep up the thing.  Thank you for your attention.

30 Day TV Meme - Day 22

Day 22 - Favorite series finale

M*A*S*H.  By a country mile.

M*A*S*H had an advantage in that the "ending" was natural and self-evident.  The war had to end sometime.  The added brilliance was in the stories told in a 2-hour period in a race to the finish line.  Namely, Hawkeye finally cracked.  The way that story unfolded - with the awesome Alan Arbus in his recurring role as an army psychiatrist - was Hawkeye trying to piece together the fragments of memory from the trauma that led to a breakdown.

As that story arc ended, the peace process picks up and we watch our heroes making plans to go home.  There is a great scene where we hear what everyone plans to do next.  the punchline, of course, belongs to Klinger.

The word Goodbye spelled out in the rocks is an iconic picture now, but it was really powerful in context.  It was natural, true to the series, worked as a stand alone ep and tied up the loose ends.  I can't think of another show that did it so well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dracula: Origin

I picked up this game on clearance at the holiday sale at Half Price Books.  I wasn't really interested in one more Dracula game, but I realized that some of the people that worked on this game did the Agatha Christie games that I kinda liked.

The first thing I did, while the game was loading, was Google the walkthroughs.  Because I am a big cheater.  And ever since the incident with the orange juice and conducting electricity (on the Orient Express game), I don't even feel dumb.  Or guilty.

The player is Van Helsing, trying to rescue that foolish Mina.  Poor Harker is toast.  There are some puzzles, as well as some problem solving, but I am really in it for the storytelling.  It was ok.

However, the feature in the interface that I really liked was that when you hit the spacebar, the screen will highlight with all of your options - the hand for places you should do something, the eye for places you should see something and the footprints for where you can move to a new screen.  Very convenient for cheaters having a "what the heck haven't I done here?" moment.

This would have been good for a weekend - if there hadn't been two hockey games that weekend.

Lunch at Whole Foods

Whole Foods moved into the neighborhood near my office, so I walked over for lunch today. They are clearly catering to the business lunch crowd. I am used to the salad bar, the hot bar, the soup bar, the sushi bar and the gelato counter. This one also had a pasta counter and a “diner” counter with burgers and sandwiches and milkshakes.


I picked up a slice of pizza for $3.00. It was pretty decent for by-the-slice, with a good crust. Here’s the problem: you can’t get anything normal at Whole Foods. Like a freakin’ Diet Coke.

Pizza requires a carbonated beverage. Lunchtime requires caffeine. And it must be of the Diet variety. This is what they had:



“All natural”.

I will not be making this mistake again.

Blog Talk Radio

Rich Weiner, the Executive Director at the Refuge, was the guest on Blog Talk Radio:


Listen to internet radio with A Variety Of Pets on Blog Talk Radio

30 Day TV Meme - Day 21

Day 21 - Favorite ship


My favorite ship comes from the first time I remember hearing the term:  The X-Files.
 
The whole sexual-tension-between-partners thing is as old as television and it is rather rare to see it done well (See: Moonlighting).  I seem to recall Hunter and McCall hooking up once, but they quite rightly gave that concept the smackdown.  Some shows flirt with it - Hawkeye and Margaret on M*A*S*H, Toby and CJ on The West Wing - without taking it to the next level.  (I am not a fan of Josh and Donna.  I dug CJ and Danny, though.)
 
What made Mulder and Scully so great was that by the time they reached the point of acknowledging the multiple layers of their relationship (Read as: when Mulder moved in to kiss her already), the meta-plot picked up some serious speed.  They hit the pause button.  And Duchovny's absence/Mulder's disappearance kept it there.  By the time the series was over, it was all just "Yeah.  They ended up together."  I was fine with it. 
 
Admittedly, there was some pretty clumsy stuff.  Scully's pregnancy was just lame, I think.  And remember that one in Season..6, I think?...where they were undercover in suburbia?  There was no point to it other than teasing the shippers.
 
All the same, this was the first show where I watched the characters every week and took their temperature with every word.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Book Sale Formerly Known as Brandeis - 2010

This morning, I headed over to Old Orchard Shopping Mall in Skokie to hit the Little City Book Sale. This was the second full day of the sale, which was a change in strategy for me. The past couple of years, I have attended on the second Saturday, which is “half price” day. The second Sunday, when they are really trying to clear the place out, can be hazardous to life and limb. But the second-to-last day can be done.

This year, though, I really just wanted to avoid the crowds. Also, I wondered if attending on the second day might net any great finds. When I attend these big sales, I am generally looking for good history books and what I would call “modern classics” – Roth, Didion, and now Doctorow. The thing I have been totally unable to find, and refuse to pay retail is John Updike’s Rabbit Run. Primarily because my sense of what used books should cost is no longer reasonable, I didn’t expect to be buying too much today.

Ha.

Right when I walked in the door, I saw the two enormous children’s book tables. Unusual for this sale, but I had read the other day that Scholastic donated a whole bunch of new books to the cause. I grabbed a 4-pack of Junie B. Jones books for Alex - $2.00 - and scurried away. Must stay ahead of the crowd.

Fiction. It was at the Literature tables that I determined to write a list of Book Sale Laws – to be posted later. Preview: Leaving your cart in the middle of the aisle while you move on to the endcap yapping on your cell phone is not acceptable. Here, I picked up so many that I broke my “No more than you can carry with your own two hands” rule and put them in my reusable bag.

I was across from two twentysomethings talking about American Wife, the novel based on Laura Bush’s life. One asked the other to keep a lookout for it. The other said, “OK. It will have to be a hardcover, because it just came out.” I opened my mouth to say that I had seen at least two trade paperback copies on the table behind them, but thought it would sound snotty, rather than helpful. They’d find it.

As I was looking through the Presidents section of the history table, I was next to a lady taking so long that I swung over to the other side to get around. Her friend caught up with her from down the table and said, “Oh, check out all the Presidents books!” The response: “Oh, I’m not interested in the Presidents.” And she still didn’t move on.

In the Mystery section, I found the Nelson DeMille that my mother once had, donated to the library because she wasn’t going to read it, then asked for again. At least that was a paperback. Then in the history section I bought the official One I Have Already: Garry Wills book about Lincoln and Gettysburg.

I swear, it happens to me every year.

That was about when a lady near me picked up her cell phone and said, “Yeah, it’s getting crowded now.” I looked up and saw that it was. High-tailed it out.

For myself, I found two Roths, two Doctorows, a Bob Greene I had never seen before and Studs Turkel’s Chicago. The final take was 13 books (four in the kiddie box set) for $16.00.  I was very pleased.

Now, about those rules…