To the Will Of the Night

Against all odds, Pete and I packed the car and headed out Friday morning. As late as Thursday evening, I expected him to tell me he had to work Saturday night, but bad news never came. Traveling back and forth to Virginia exhausts me and I was afraid I might have to make the drive alone. Friday morning, I buzzed around my apartment, a whirlwind of dread and To Do lists. At some point, I began speaking in tongues.

Tata: Kmumu bikka bing?
Pete: Sure, but is that all the garbage?
Tata: Dibi coo mokmok soooooob?
Pete: I don’t remember seeing the balsamic vinegar, no.
Tata: Rurrrrow mobby tek!
Pete: Sweetheart, you don’t have a lemur.
Tata: True, but if I had one would it be in the trunk?

We were on Route 78 headed toward the Pennsylvania border before I stopped hyperventilating. This will prove ironic later but for now, I relaxed and let the radio, the man, the sunlight, and the fact of the journey under way work their magic on me. Windows wide and windblown, we talked for hours.

Pete: …we can get methanol there.
Tata: Methanol? Doesn’t that come from cows?
Pete: It’s made of corn!
Tata: It’s made of p0rn? I want the first p0rn-electric hybrid!

All things at our destination had not gone as planned. My sister Daria did not get a chance to shop for groceries, leaving us with Dad’s gargantuan stash of pasta, the neighbors’ fresh tomatoes and whatever we’d brought with us. This was also the first time Pete caught a glimpse of what happened when my sisters had both cell phones and price guns in hand. In preparation for Saturday’s yard sale, Daria, Dara and our stepmother Darla were pricing and boxing Dad’s possessions. While on Route 81, I focused on the important things.

Tata: What are you making me for dinner?
Daria: Three for a buck, like the books.
Tata: We’re bringing pie!
Daria: Ply?
Tata: Pie!
Daria: Bly?
Tata: Pie! P-I-E! Pie!
Tata: Delicious pie! Two kinds of pie!
Tata: Maaaaaybe! What’s for dinner?
Daria: Remember that time I called you while I was making spaghetti and kept making spaghetti and it grew and grew?
Tata: It was like the Little Rascals cake, only al dente!
Daria: Yeah, well, now you’re gonna eat it.

Naturally, we stopped at a grocery store and bought pork chops.

The Wine And Take That Pearl

This morning, Matt Lauer was in Teheran. I had only a minute to watch but I sat down anyway because I couldn’t pick up my jaw. Lauer interviewed Seyyid Mohammad Marandi, Professor of North American Studies at the University of Tehran, who grew up in Virginia and spoke perfect English. Things were kind of moving along with the Republican talking points interview, starting at about 5:00 into the clip, and you can actually SEE the professor, who does his best to answer questions framed in the madness of King George, hesitate a few times before he answers. It’s plain he wants to tell Matt he’s being deceived. The thing that will take your breath away is that by the end of the interview, where Marandi has remained rational and patient, Lauer gets a little jumpy and tries to persuade the professor to agree. This morning, I couldn’t hear what Lauer was saying because his body language was happily shouting, “So you SEE, don’t you, that we absolutely have to nuke your country? It’s obvious, right?”

One more thing: Marandi delivered a line with some real punch and Lauer passed it by. The professor said that the United States should not attack Iran because the United States has got the other two wars with weaker countries but war with Iran, which is much stronger, would be “a calamity.” I heard it loud and clear. Who knows what Lauer heard?

Something To Slow Me Down

Happy New Year!


It was written by Dee Dee Ramone, Jean Beauvoir, and Joey Ramone as a reaction to Ronald Reagan’s visit to a soldiers’ cemetery in Bitburg, West Germany in May 1985. The name Bonzo is not that of a person, but rather refers to the name of the chimpanzee title character to one of Reagan’s movies, Bedtime for Bonzo.

Reagan’s visit to the Bitburg cemetery had been criticised in Europe as well as in the United States because 49 members of the SS, the Nazi paramilitary organization that helped run the extermination camps during World War II, were buried there. Some of SS members buried at Bitburg came from units that committed atrocities, including the murder of American POWs. According to White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan, in Reagan’s view the majority of the soldiers who were buried at the cemetery were “simply soldiers of the German army…. There were thousands of such soldiers for whom Nazism meant nothing but the brutal end of a short life”.

The lyrics are a departure from the Ramones’ usual style, with a more outwardly serious content. Joey and Dee Dee Ramone had written the song with producer and former Plasmatics bassist/keyboardist Jean Beauvoir. Joey, who was Jewish, has stated that he started on the song lyrics after being almost physically sickened by the Reagan visit, feeling that the President had disrespected the six million victims of the Holocaust by visiting Bitburg.

“Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” was originally meant to be the sole title of the song, but guitarist Johnny Ramone, a conservative Republican and a Reagan supporter, insisted that the refrain of “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down” be the title on American releases of the song and that the reference to Reagan (“Bonzo”) be in parentheses.

This song has been on my mind. No mystery there.

Is Love the Exception

You will be pleased to hear Siobhan is healing at a prodigious rate. In fact, the process began almost as soon as she came out of anesthesia.

Siobhan: Will you PLEASE get that fucking IV out of my hand?
Technician: Ma’am! There’s no need to swear!
Siobhan: No time like the goddam present!

It’s one of the hot philosophical debates of our time: if a patient swears in the recovery room, does anyone hear? That’s a trick question, because nurses know emotional distress is normal and ignore it. Develop a fixation on that IV needle, though, and you can leave ’em rolling in the aisles. And speaking of rolling, yesterday, Siobhan reported watching The Aristocrats. Mr. DBK loves this movie and mentions it all the time, but Siobhan saved it for a rainy day. Yesterday, it poured outside, so Siobhan poured herself a cup of tea and reclined glamorously to watch.

Tata: Are you out of your mind? Didn’t you have surgery twice last week and isn’t it true you cannot yet bend yourself to form a right angle?
Siobhan: I can’t bend over, yes.
Tata: And aren’t you on piles of painkillers?
Siobhan: Piles, yes.
Tata: And you’re struggling to ingest calories because the treatments make it difficult to slurp?
Siobhan: ….bored now…
Tata: Why on earth did you watch an utterly foul-mouthed comedy that made you laugh so hard you’re still moaning, “Ow ow fucking ow…”?
Siobhan: Professional courtesy?

We’re lucky. We live in a time when advanced humor delivery systems can kill and cure, which reminds me: Daria and I are going back to Virginia this weekend. Batten down the hatches! We’re having a garage sale of Dad’s stuff. Expect only the finest in grief-stricken hilarity, and a road trip starting Friday.

Who wants to catsit?

Waste My Love On A Nation

I can’t help it. When Pete says, “You’re so pretty,” I hear Johnny Rotten.

Damn, I love those boys more every year.

But enough cuddly crap: I’ve got a potential human to protect from the evil of pastels. Miss Sasha, who has taken to heart my desire to eschew dumb baby garbage and get trashy, forwarded a few links to unusual purveyors purveying unusual merchandise with the advice, “Here, make your dream come true.”

Tata: What exactly is my dream?
Miss Sasha: To dress your grandson like the Ramones.
Tata: Right…right! Well, it’s collar spikes and torn up jeans for him, then!
Miss Sasha: One of these sites has lullabye versions of Nirvana, Metallica and The Cure!
Tata: What, no Bauhaus?

Look at these fashionplates. Who wouldn’t want to dress up babies like Joey and Dee Dee? It’s all I can do to hold off buying a leather jacket in toddler sizes. And I sure hope someone makes leather bracelets for pre-schoolers, because if not, I’m prepared to take up leatherworking just for this. That’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make!

In the meantime, I’m TOTALLY cleaning them out for black onesies and embroidering the Anarchy symbol where most kids wear Barney.

Visible Shivers Running Down My Spine

Topaz and Drusy have become rather assertive about joining me in my indoor endeavors. They follow me to the bathroom and tap their feet. They encourage me to exercise by nibbling parts of my anatomy that touch the living room floor. They critique my cooking technique while seated on the counter next to the stove. I don’t mind. I love them madly and wish I could take kittens to work every day; I long to think of them as beloved co-workers. When it comes to matters domestic, I most certainly do. Here, we see the lovely Drusy discovering the spin cycle. Yes, your eyes deceive you. As I looked at her, she was blurry around the edges.

As she stood atop the washing machine Sharkey calls The World’s Largest Breadmaker, hardly a solid object herself, the vibrating machine drained into the sink, puzzling the pussycat. Miss Drusy tried her delicate hardest to collect the drops dripping from the faucet attachment, though she plainly could not. She once or twice climbed into the sink to have a swat at the draining water. I assured her that all would be well and her personal earthquake would end in few aftershocks momentarily, but as a kitten she cared only about the smell of clean laundry and kisses on her tiny nose.

Swaying, And the Radio’s Playing

This is not food. It is a substitute for food. Sure, it’ll keep you alive, but you’ll be resentful. Why? Because this shit’s making you fat, slothful, addlepated and hypertensive.

You don’t have to be a genius to look at a plate of this oozing goo and know it’s no good for you. Why? Look at it. No, really look at it. What do you see? White flour and a fatty substance that may or may not be a dairy product. Your first thought when someone puts down the plate ought to be, “You bastard! Attempted murder is a felony!” People poisoning cash-laden spouses with arsenic may thicken their plots faster than your dinner host but dead’s dead, and you’ll push up daisies with the same aplomb. From the Stouffer’s Nutrition Facts panel, which I can’t reproduce because I was born before the fucking Photoshop Cut-Off Date:

Serving Size 6 oz
Servings Per Container 2

Amount Per Serving
Calories 350 Calories From Fat 150

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 17 g 26%
Saturated Fat 7 g 35%
Trans Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 25 mg 8%
Sodium 920 mg 38%

Total Carbohydrates 34 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g 11%
Sugars 2 g 8%

Protein 15 g

Vitamin A 0%
Calcium 30%
Vitamin C 0%
Iron 8%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Let’s be honest about a few things. You know why? Because lying is hard work – and who has the time?

1. I’m not brilliant. The rest of the label reads like that nightmare test I haven’t studied for and OMIGOD I’M NAKED! You’re a grownup. Read it yourself.

2. Nobody but nobody eats 6 oz of this glop and quits, which is why 2 servings come in that box. Six ounces is 3/4 of a cup. Go to your kitchen. Get a one-cup measuring cup. Three-quarters of that is your serving, and you know right away you’re going to eat twice that, aren’t you? Now, that means double your sodium, and that’s 76% of your daily sodium on one plate. Dude. You’re in trouble now.

3. That dietary fiber number means your digestive tract is done for the next 24 hours – unless you’re lactose intolerant, in which case: clear your schedule. Your lower intestine has plans for you!

4. Don’t get me started about what all this starch does to your brain. You get depressed, you eat this crap, then you get more depressed, then you’re buying this by the case and writing love letters to Morrissey. There’s a clue here somewhere.

Why are you doing this to yourself? You’re short on time, you can’t cook, you need some comfort ASAP or maybe it never occurred to you that Corporate America doesn’t love you like Mom. Note: if Mom’s making this crap for you, it might be a hint that Mom wants you the hell OUT.

You: Okay! I won’t eat the Stouffer’s! Ya happy?
Tata: Yeah yeah – NO.

You can find recipes for macaroni and cheese – which I am not now nor will I ever refer to by its dumb nickname – just about anywhere, both good and bad, but they are mostly bad., where I never go for recipes, offers this, which once again will keep you alive until it kills you. The Food Network lists 92 recipes; nutritionist Ellie Krieger’s includes lowfat cheeses and pureed winter squash, but that’s not much of an improvement over our boxed oozing goo. (Frankly, I value my arteries too much to even look at Paula Deen’s recipe.) gives us some better possibilities with the inclusion of beans, eggplant or mushrooms. America’s Test Kitchen, which I love with a fiery passion, challenges us wth a classic, a lighter version of macaroni and cheese, and one with ham and peas.

Macaroni and cheese was invented during the Depression to feed large families for virtually no money, with cheap, relatively plentiful ingredients until better was available. In 2007, not only are you not starving but you would have to be deaf, dumb, blind, marooned on a desert island and locked in your parents’ basement to not know that your body will function better with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (frozen, in a pinch) and good quality protein sources. Moreover, you will always feel and think better when you prepare your own food and control the sodium content. I know we all take shortcuts, but boxed macaroni and cheese is a shortcut through the backyard of that neighbor with a pack of rottweilers.

Look, I grasp down to the soles of my Keds that sometimes you want to eat this crap and not think. You want the gooey, creamy, cheesy, thoughtless, artery-clogging goodness that reminds you of a better day, with a crunchy crust. And I respect that blue moon impulse in people who know better and will eat some stir-fried tofu tomorrow, but what is driving me fucking round the twist is parents shoving the detestable Kraft Easy Mac at their defenseless children instead of real food. Honest to Christ, it’s not, and parents are doing their children no favors here. I’m not even going to link to that shit. You can surf the net for it or drag yourself to your grocery store, where you can find the boxes you desire by following the trail of hyperactive fat children with glazed expressions and behavior problems.

Look, it’s just not that hard. Don’t eat this evil crap and don’t feed it to children.

Me Somebody To Love Find

This gorgeous image came courtesy of Mr. Wintle, with whom I share a fond interest in astronomy and miscroscopy – things great and small. This is a microscopic view of frost on a blade of grass. It thrills me. When I look at this picture, I make noises only dogs can hear.

Also via Wintle: Kiva, where you become a banker and a cheerleader. From the About page:

We let you loan to the working poor

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

They’re generous with quotation marks, but let’s move on, shall we? Kiva’s got diagrams:

We show you where your money goes

Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform for the poor. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle. The below diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to a third-world borrower, and back!

It’s a really interesting concept. Currently, you can only invest $25 because, the site will tell you, publicity brought Kiva more investors than Kiva expected, though it doesn’t look that way when you survey the individual loan cases.

I like this idea very much. It builds on the practices of 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for Economics winner Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank. If you are not familiar with the Grameen Bank, I would urge you to read up. It’s a genuine reason to believe one person can make a big difference in the world, and, you know, you’re one person.