Like A Leper Messiah

This morning, I had a fight on my hands.

Tata: I don’t wanna go to work!
Tata: We’re going!
Tata: I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!
Tata: Aw, come on, little camper! We can get some fresh coffee…?
Tata: No!
Tata: That’s it! I’m throwing you in the shower!

Man, she’s a BITCH! So I got dressed in the dark because Pete wasn’t really asleep. I can’t explain that. Anyway, some time later, I realized I was inching away from me.

Tata: What in glamorous tarnation are you wearing?
Tata: Pants. My co-workers like when I wear pants.
Tata: And what else, Missy?
Tata: I’m wearing – oh, help.
Tata: Yes, exactly. Your Inner Angry Toddler dressed you in pretty, pretty colors. In fact, all of them.

So I tried buttoning or unbuttoning, to make it look like I’d assembled this ensemble on purpose.

Tata: That shirt you gave me. I suppose you knew the buttons don’t unbutton.
Mom: Are we playing Anagrams?
Tata: I cannot unbutton this shirt. You have cursed me.
Mom: Are you at work?
Tata: I am, and they like when I wear shirts. But this one, I cannot unbutton, even on purpose. It’s permanent or something.
Mom: Now I remember: you didn’t graduate from high school!
Tata: That was then, this is now, and I have lefthanded scissors.

I am now wearing a modified, less terrifying version of the this morning’s outfit in tones of purple and brown. I’ve also discovered that standing in front of one’s co-workers and shouting, “HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT I’M WEARING?” will produce a wide variety of responses largely dependant upon what you’ve shouted beforehand.

Thus, you will be surprised I had the nerve to stare at this Go Fug Yourself picture of Traci Bingham like dogs stare at ceiling fans. I’d never heard of her before, so I figure she’s one of those starlets on a reality show I can’t name. She’s got lovely skin tone, a super shape, and she doesn’t look like one of those meal-skipping waifs, so yay. Anyway, Kali knows I’ve put on some get ups in my day, including a gold lamé toga I should have had dusted for fingerprints, so I observed this dress with milder mirth than others might, at least until Miss Bingham turned around. Irridescent fake snake skin is one thing. Fake dress is another one altogether.

In fact, it’s not a dress. It’s someone’s resumé.

Dear Traci’s Plastic Surgeon,

Nice work.


Princess Tata
Pun intended.

I once went out wrapped in cellophane, showing less skin than this. However, on the day you issue the demand for better video of your grandson, it’s mighty weird to mention your erstwhile hotness. You must trust me that I would never have mentioned either Miss Traci With An I, my closet full of industrial kitchenware and mismatched knits or my super-adorable grandbaby who now says, “Hi!” if not for the third picture, which caused me to scream, frightening my cats. My poor darlings! I simply wasn’t prepared, as a gal who treated every day of her late teens, twenties and thirties as one long costume party, to meet the almost certain Guest of Honor. Said Jessica of Go Fug Yourself:

…what can I say? There are literally no words in the human vocabulary that can express my horror/glee at the fact that you have gone out wearing a dress with a giant detachable ruffle, which you, at some point, removed and presumably shoved into your purse. I am terrified, and yet thrilled to the very marrow of my bones. That is all. I have no further witticism. I am so confused/excited. I’m going to go lie down with a washcloth over my forehead and attempt to parse my own emotions. Farewell.

Bravo! This is a fashion crime on a par with the Brinks Armored Car Heist, and I say that as a little old lady with her hair in a ponytail, wearing black shoes with a brown outfit. Even I was left – briefly! – speechless by the color scheme, texture and clashing patterns when I quit screaming. This dress reminds me of the weirdest parts of childhood, like pretending to be a mermaid and not noticing you can’t move. Like pre-teens auditioning for a dance troupe to “Hey Big Spender.” Like at every little girl’s birthday party before 1970 where Barbie stood in the center of a bundt cake, not at all like a human sacrifice up to her neck in festive butter cream. Friends, we are in the presence of greatness.

Fortunately, I smell clean.

A Kinder, Gentler Machine Gun Hand

Nouriel Roubini:

Over the past year, whenever optimists have declared the worst of the economic crisis behind us, Roubini has countered with steadfast pessimism. In February, when the conventional wisdom held that the venerable investment firms of Wall Street would weather the crisis, Roubini warned that one or more of them would go “belly up” — and six weeks later, Bear Stearns collapsed. Following the Fed’s further extraordinary actions in the spring — including making lines of credit available to selected investment banks and brokerage houses — many economists made note of the ensuing economic rally and proclaimed the credit crisis over and a recession averted. Roubini, who dismissed the rally as nothing more than a “delusional complacency” encouraged by a “bunch of self-serving spinmasters,” stuck to his script of “nightmare” events: waves of corporate bankrupticies, collapses in markets like commercial real estate and municipal bonds and, most alarming, the possible bankruptcy of a large regional or national bank that would trigger a panic by depositors. Not all of these developments have come to pass (and perhaps never will), but the demise last month of the California bank IndyMac — one of the largest such failures in U.S. history — drew only more attention to Roubini’s seeming prescience.

As a result, Roubini, a respected but formerly obscure academic, has become a major figure in the public debate about the economy: the seer who saw it coming.

Roubini argues that most of the losses from this bad debt have yet to be written off, and the toll from bad commercial real estate loans alone may help send hundreds of local banks into the arms of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. “A good third of the regional banks won’t make it,” he predicted. In turn, these bailouts will add hundreds of billions of dollars to an already gargantuan federal debt, and someone, somewhere, is going to have to finance that debt, along with all the other debt accumulated by consumers and corporations. “Our biggest financiers are China, Russia and the gulf states,” Roubini noted. “These are rivals, not allies.”

The United States, Roubini went on, will likely muddle through the crisis but will emerge from it a different nation, with a different place in the world. “Once you run current-account deficits, you depend on the kindness of strangers,” he said, pausing to let out a resigned sigh. “This might be the beginning of the end of the American empire.”

A Tiny Insect In the Palm of History

Times Online:

McCain camp prays for Palin wedding
The marriage of the vice-presidential candidate’s pregnant teenage daughter could lift a flagging campaign

Yeah, you read that right. Stop gasping and read some more:

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride.

Hello, dahhhhhhhhhhhlinks. I’m Ta, your hostess here at flaming, shameless Poor Impulse Control. Can I get you a drink? Have a seat. Let’s have a chat, but not the one I expect you’re – it’s okay to laugh – expecting.

As a matter of fact, I was a pregnant teen. No matter what any debutante tells you about fighting your or someone else’s babyfat, this experience is highly overrated. In fact, if you must procreate, I recommend waiting until you’re staring menopause in the sweating face so when you retire your children are too young to follow you to your adult community. That’s for stealing the car, Junior! Fund your own tattoos!

Being a grandparent is – and I can’t say this enough – made of awesomeness. Mazel tov to Mr. and Mrs. Palin! Their children and grandchildren can play together! It’ll be a blast, so long as Mom and Dad remember who’s who, which will be tougher than they think. We’re getting to that age where finding our car keys becomes a challenge on a par with the Riddle of the Sphinx. But don’t worry. Their children will pretend to “help.” But it’s not our recalcitrant teen’s situation we should discuss. No. I am a woman close to Sarah Palin’s age, I have a daughter and a grandson, and I have extensive experience with being the poster child for Maybe We Should Sober Up First, but beyond that scintillating resume, I also used to be a writer of some skill. Let’s talk about me.

I was a big believer in letting characters write themselves. If you let them tell you about themselves you can’t end up with Mr. Darcy playing with Tonka Trucks or anything by Jeff Foxworthy, but you’re a sucky writer if you force characters to do stuff that’d be outside the range of their personality. It’s a complex business because people are so complex. Learn from events. What do they mean? If you close your eyes, and listen, and let yourself feel your way around the psyche of your imaginary friend, you will be okay. This technique also teaches you – meaning me – when people are doing something outside of their ordinary behaviors. In other words, when Samantha stutters, Darren – either Darren – knows Endora’s camped up in the nursery, because Sam doesn’t stutter. Instinctively, you know the basics. You don’t trust people who smile all the time and speak slowly, and when calm people start blinking they’re rethinking a situation under stress. In other words: they’re lying. So let’s draw a character for a moment, remembering that there are no easy answers, and let’s call her Sarah Palin.

You’re a saucy damsel raised in the kind of End Of Days church athiests cross themselves and avoid, you’ve been married to the same snowmobiling dude for about twenty years and you have a pack of children you may or may not pay much attention to over a long period of time. You seem to believe in the fire and brimstone stuff, but you’re an elected official and not home baking cookies. You believe you’re on a mission from God, which means you’re allowed to eliminate your enemies. They deserve it. One day, you’re a free-wheeling state governor, when your political party’s presidential candidate calls and asks what you’re doing next week, and for the next four years. So far, I understand you as a character. As a poet or novelist, I could help you walk, talk and sign distasteful bills into law. But then something happens. Your oldest daughter, who had better knock it off, comes up pregnant and everyone, everywhere, says something stupid. Weeks pass, and the presidential campaign may be in trouble.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

Poor Impulse Control reader: you’re a creative, empathic person. You know that most teen marriages fail spectacularly within five years, usually with lifelong repercussions. You know this is a disaster in the making. Our character did not have to agree to join the candidate on the trail, or when the rabbit died, could have retired to the governor’s mansion. In a quiet moment, ask yourself this question for which there are no easy answers: what kind of mother, what parent, what human being, what psyche places her daughter’s shotgun wedding in a presidential election season and invites the international press?

Drifting, Falling

This is from Politico, which is no left-leaning union newsletter. It is a conservative mouthpiece.

Consider this source very, very carefully, and the horror this portends.

According to one GOP lawmaker, some House Republicans are saying privately that they’d rather “let the markets crash” than sign on to a massive bailout.

“For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?” the member asked.

I have my feelings about the crisis, the negotiations, the package, the pricetag, the process, the players, the outcome and the consequences to the executives. All of these things aside – and I am not arguing in favor of the bail out – why are these employees of the taxpayers allowed within 100 yards of the Halls of Congress?

How do they show their faces in public without cream pies sailing through the air?

That’s When I Fell For

Mom would be so proud!

Tata: (Singing. As usual) La la la la la! I have soup for lunch. It will be delicious soup. I am adding canned soup to leftovers. It will be delicious! La la la la la!
Joanne: (Heating Uncle Ben’s microwave rice) I like soup. I guess.
Tata: Soup is good for you. I have chicken soup. It is very chunky. La la la la!
Joanne: I wish you could get just the chicken and noodles.
Tata: Isn’t that called a casserole?
Joanne: No. Broth!
Tata: (Not singing anymore) You mean without vegetables?
Joanne: I don’t like vegetables in my soup.
Tata: (ZOT! Wires fried) Well, that explains the malnutrition.

Just to be sure, I called Mom.

Tata: What do you think of the prospect of soup without vegetables?
Mom: Is it a fruit soup?
Tata: Tomato soup is fruit soup.
Mom: You’re making tomato soup without tomatoes?
Tata: I had a comic encounter with a co-worker who said she liked soup without the vegetables.
Mom: …
Tata: And I said, “Uh, what?”
Mom: That’s what I said, only without all the words.

She’s like Miss Manners, only feral and with homemade soup stock.

A Hit Before Your Mother Was Born

This is Miss Lotte Lenya singing Mack the Knife on BBC1 in 1962, before I was born. I have her autobiography, it’s an interesting read. She’s a complicated character and you’d like her. She married her first husband twice – the Nazis came between them, doncha know – and her other husbands once. Once of my great-grandmothers was married five times. Marilyn Monroe died six months before I was born. Neither of those things is very important but both are true, and that means they matter in some context, we just don’t always know which.

Miss Lotte Lenya, as you can see, had powerful feelings about historical events that shaped her life. She was forced out of Europe by Hitler, as you may have guessed; thus her emotions make logical sense to us. We encounter this in life. Sometimes we can see why people act the way they do and sometimes we cannot. We see the emotion. We do not see the why.

Observe this Yahoo! article – and you can say that again, brother:

Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent,” responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He’s an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation’s oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

I studied this graph at some length yesterday, and I invite you to do the same. The single most important thing I can say about the image is that respondants were asked if they considered black people friendly, lazy, hardworking or irresponsible. The phrasing of these questions – I can’t – I don’t know how to say this, but what does one say when pollsters ask if you think all black people are stupid? “No, but I feel my IQ dropping as we speak” springs to mind. In what way is it possible to answer about any group of people anything other than, “That group of people has excellent taste in shoes,” or “None of those people is holding an umbrella”? What the poll purports to measure is prejudicial feeling but where is the opportunity to express the simple truth that each individual person is different from every other person? Isn’t it logical to say, “I know that within every group is a lovely spectrum of human personality traits, and I dislike shoes”?

When you answer the phone, you are, of course, free to turn the poll back on the pollster by saying, “When you are ready to ask me an unloaded question, call me again.” Thus, you have context.

I am sensitive to the pressures of language. When you ask me a question, I answer the question you asked. Then the one you didn’t. Then the one you meant. What did you really want to know?

Most people will say some other person should be treated harshly so long as there is no possibility they will be treated the same way. If you ask, “Should Ethnic Person B have recourse to lawyers?” the answer will probably be, “No.” If you ask, “Should every defendant be given a fair trial?” bet your boots the answer is, “Yes.”

A woman I know married a man from Africa and has several children with him. To people who answered the survey above her children are not white, and to some people, this whiteness business matters. It’s a sickness, really, an affliction America chooses not to treat. White Americans, for instance, may not vote for a black candidate because he’s black. Sometimes we can see why people act the way they do and sometimes we cannot. We see the emotion. We do not see the why.

And, sometimes, there is no why.

High And Dry, Out Of the Rain

What the fuck is this?

Rehab is not glamorous. Rehab is what happens when you’ve been drunk since the baby was born and the social worker is losing her patience and the waiting list is so long you pour yourself into the bottle and someone in your family has thousands of dollars he or she spends several times over. Rehab is no picnic, no day at the beach, no walk in the park, baby. Rehab means you need new friends, a new job and a new place to live because you’ve fucked up so badly you need a court-ordered time out. Rehab is a dreaded ordeal and not a beauty treatment. So I thought.

Thank Christ Bioré, Paris, Lindsay, and Britney have set me straight.

Voca Teria Que Ser Un Genio

1. I Am An Idiot

Topaz disappeared one night about ten days after we moved into this house. We were a little nervous. In the middle of the night, a cat meowed loudly. Drusy often meows in the middle of the night. I called Drusy over and over. She usually jumps on my chest, keeeesses me and that’s that, but not that night. Around 4:30 a.m., Pete mumbled, “What’s wrong with her?” I said I didn’t know but I’d call the vet. At 6:05, the alarm rang. I got up, opened the bathroom door and found Topaz crocheting an escape ladder out of toilet paper. “Moron!” she hissed as she ran past me, stopped suddenly and licked her paw. I promised her when she called I’d come running. And I’d mop the floor.

2. I Am A Genius

I forget Drusy follows me everywhere and I whirl through the house like a dervish. Two days after our mutual sleepless night, I heard a cat meowing urgently. At first, I thought, ‘Oy, I’m working here’ but then I remembered: I promised. At the top of the stairs, I found Topaz facing a closed door. “It’s about time, duh!” she meowed. Under the door, I saw a shadow. Drusy! Topaz led me to poor Drusy, shut into one of the rooms! I opened the door, scritched the distressed pussycat and ran to tell Pete, who was not at all surprised. “Topaz is all ‘C’mere, c’mere, Drusy’s stuck down the well,’ but let Topaz need help and Drusy’s like, ‘Who?'”

3. I Am An Idiot

Topaz is an escape artist. When we were at the apartment, if the door opened, Topaz was off like a shot: out the door and into the hallway, sometimes up the stairs, so before we moved over here, Pete screened off the back porch. Don’t get excited. A little lumber, some screen, a few screws, a latch and – bingo! – a temporary Cat Containment Facility. Topaz sits at the kitchen door and mews, “Mama, I want to go out and play, Mama.” If the latch is latched, I let her out onto the porch, where there are millions of new things to sniff. Yesterday, I let her out and forgot she was out there. Finally, I heard a bit of plaintive mewing. As I walked toward the kitchen, I could see Topaz about halfway up the screen storm door, and I have no idea how long she was hanging there, hissing, “Moron! Oh…moron!”

4. I Am A – Oh, Forget It…

Get a load of this shit:

It’s election time and your vote counts! So get into the spirit of 1776 with 15 fun and classic songs that celebrate everything that makes our country great in SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK! THE ELECTION COLLECTION! Plus, keep track of the actual voting results in all 50 states with the exclusive Election Tracking Kit with stickers and experience the new to DVD song “Presidential Minute” – with two surprise endings! A generation of young Americans learned that American history and government could be fun with the award-winning animated series SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK. Now a whole new generation of patriots can be inspired by memorable songs that explain how our government is set up in “I’m Just A Bill” and “Three-Ring Government”, how the electoral process works in “I’m Gonna Send Your Vote To College”, and more! Your house – and the White House – are gonna rock this year!

Rock the White House? The only thing we’re gonna rock this year is the poor house.

Lies And Deceit Gained A Little More Power

Pete and I just came back from the feared, loathed and loved Somerset Diner, where Sixty Minutes was on five or six giant flat screen TVs, muted, with closed captioning scrolling down the page at an energetic clip. Thing was: the transcriptonist must’ve been Welsh or Israeli or something where vowels were optional and word breaks were created with delicious whimsy. The result was – and I hope you saw this at home – gibberish. I looked up a few times and came within inches of inhaling french fries, which would have made me miserable because those french fries were really good. In any case, Wall Street is melting down, and anyone still advocating deregulation and socialized losses for the rich deserves not a promotion but a turn at public humiliation.

Fortunately – did I mention it? – Sixty Minutes was on, Scott Pelley’s an absolute moron, and there was public humiliation for viewer, interviewer and candidate alike.

Cannot Rest, We Cannot Rest

I love Quakers. They’re full of interesting ideas about non-violent interaction with the world, which is much tougher than it seems, especially if you drive and would like nothing better than to knock that MADD Mother in the noggin.

Big Guy: Ta, how can non-violence be tough? Tough guys are tough! It’s tough to put on tights and crack someone’s coconut!
Tata: No, I’m sorry. You’ve mistaken tough for sexually repressed.
Big Guy: Come on! I want pointed missiles and hard targets and men in uniform.
Tata: My friend, you are gay as Christmas.

Speaking of stocking stuffers: topping my list is a gift that gives and gives, and it came to me through the Quaker ladies’ grapevine. Yes, there is one. They do too drink wine, I’ve seen ’em, duh!

Dear Friends:

They call each other that, and they seem to mean it. I KNOW! What’s wrong with them?

We may have thought we wanted a woman on a national political ticket, but the joke has really been on us, hasn’t it? Are you as sick in your stomach as I am at the thought of Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States ?

Since Palin gave her speech accepting the Republican nomination for the Vice Presidency, Barack Obama’s campaign has raised over $10 million dollars. Some of you may already be supporting the Obama campaign financially; others of you may still be a little honked off over the primaries. None of you, however, can be happy with Palin’s selection, especially on her positions on women’s issues. So, if you feel you can’t support the Obama campaign financially, may I suggest the following fiendishly brilliant alternative?

Make a donation to Planned Parenthood or NARAL- Pro Choice In Sarah Palin’s name. And here’s the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they’ll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor. Here’s the link to the Planned Parenthood and NARAL websites

Planned Parenthood

You’ll need to fill in the address to let PP/NARAL know where to send the ‘in Sarah Palin’s honor’ card. I suggest you use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:

McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
1st Floor
Arlington , VA 22202

I haven’t felt this kind of fiery, wicked desire to Do Good since the first time I zipped up a red sequinned dress to emcee a benefit show, but don’t think mad advocacy is solely the province of women. Sometimes a bunch of insomniac boys can jack up a double-parked bandwagon.

Tata: That thing the town did with the bags was absolute genius.
Committee Lady: What bags? The town didn’t do anything with bags.
Tata: It wasn’t the town?
Committee Lady: The town didn’t do what?
Tata: On the South side a few months ago we all found tote bags hanging from our doorknobs. Not a word, nothing. People just picked them up and started taking them to the grocery store. If you give them a better way to do something people adapt.
Committee Lady: That wasn’t the town.
Tata: Huh. You’d think the town that positively gibbers about being green would have.

Turns out these guys sat up all night in the terrifying Somerset Diner with monstrous piles of french fries and dreamed up a scheme. I’m sure they meant to or mean to play other eco-pranks on the small town but I haven’t seen any. In any case, it’s genius.

Friends – I know, but why not? – it’s time to pull up a chair and lay out the funny. But, you know, all peaceful-like.