Pass the Tanning Butter

Last week, I ordered CD versions of the first two B-52s albums because how did I only have those in highly stationary vinyl? I can’t play that in my car! Every time I hear Rock Lobster turns out to out to be the happiest six minutes of my life. Shouting about red snappers snappin’ on my way to work practically constituted therapy because when I got there, my department expected a visit from Human Resources. My co-worker’s funeral is Saturday morning. I have regrets I don’t want to voice before we play that trust game that involves crowd surfing without a band. Yesterday, people around me swarmed her desk and cleaned it out, which I realized was too soon for me when I couldn’t breathe for an hour and a half. This may be startling, given my extreme beauty, but I don’t look great in just any shade of blue. This morning, building maintenance finally responded to an earlier complaint about ants along the cubicle wall ten feet from my desk, so at 10:30 this morning, my department hosted a grief counselor and an exterminator.

Teary hilarity did indeed ensue.

Heard We Haven’t Been


Man: I can’t believe this! Can you get the cream out of the can after someone uses it for whippits?
Pete & Tata: No.
Man: While my daughter was in the shower, the boys sniffed out all the gas. Feel this!

He hands Pete the can. Pete shakes it and hands it to me. That guy is talking a blue streak. I shake the can. It’s light, all the pressure’s gone and the contents sound liquid. Someone’s gonna get it!

Man: How can you tell what they did? Can you look at their pupils and see?
Tata: After about a minute the buzz disappears.
Man: Because one of them is upstairs in sunglasses.
Tata: Well, it is 8:45 p.m. Who could blame him?
Man: I’m really mad! They wouldn’t do this at their mother’s house.

He is also, by the way, on the phone with his girlfriend.

Man: Tata says we can’t look at them and tell. (To us) What about the cream? How do I get that out?
Pete: Nope.
Tata: It’s garbage, dude.
Man: I can’t – like – open it somehow and re-whip the cream?
Pete & Tata: Noooooooooo.
Man: Their mother’s going to be seriously pissed. Can you believe this?
Pete: I used to have a tank of nitrous as tall as your son.
Tata: My friends and I tooled around town with the Executive Whippit Travel Kit. I couldn’t be mad about this if I tried.
Man: How many brain cells do you think they killed?
Pete: Oh, about twenty martinis’ worth. Don’t tell their mother.
Man: I wouldn’t if they’d just stop lying about it.
Tata: Sure, because that works out well for kids.
Man: They keep saying it was like that. Could it have been like that?
Tata: Look, I was a bad kid. I have given every excuse and I’ve heard every excuse.
Man: Tata says she was a bad kid and gave every excuse. What about Tiffy’s strawberries?

He keeps talking as he walks away.

Tata: He’s mad about the wrong things.
Pete: Yeah. He’s not right. More wine?

Across the Clouds I See My Shadow Fly

Discovered this day in 1781: Uranus.

Herschel’s music led him to an interest in mathematics, and thence to astronomy. This interest grew stronger after 1773, and he built some telescopes and made the acquaintance of Nevil Maskelyne. In the spring of 1781, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, using a homemade telescope in the back garden of his house in New King Street, in Bath. He called the new planet the ‘Georgian star’ after King George III, which also brought him favour; the name didn’t stick, however: in France, where reference to the British king was to be avoided if possible, the planet was known as ‘Herschel’ until the name ‘Uranus’ was universally adopted.

Color me impressed. I’ve discovered many things in my various backyards: lightning bugs, a high school ring, unexpected pet poop – but never a planet. Perhaps if we spent more time on our patios, additional planets would reveal themselves. You see, whatever’s spinning out in space has done so for essentially all eternity. We just don’t see it until we’re ready.

Tata: Just so you know, I’m likely to drink a bottle of wine tonight and turn up tomorrow looking like dog chow.
Lupe: You were exceptionally lovely on Monday so we’ll average it out.

Pete and I are planting meaty beefsteak tomatoes. I plan to name them all Herschel in hopes of noticing tomatillos I don’t remember planting but must have been there all along. Today is also the anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese, who was a person and not just a famous tragic figure. Less and less will be known about her as time passes, the people who knew her take to the ether and she is swallowed by lore. Rosemary, as Ophelia said, “rosemary for remembrance.” Ophelia wasn’t talking about memories, but that gets lost, too. And basil. I like basil. Last night, Jon Stewart tore up one side of Jim Cramer and down the other after a protracted series of tearings up and down. I had waited so long to see just such a thing, just such a series of things, that at first I didn’t realize what I was seeing. After a moment, I remember thinking Jon would let him get away, as Jon has let so many before. Then I saw I was wrong, as I often am. Jon was out for blood. Jim was defenseless and mewling: a bully challenged often cries. It was always going to be thus, but now we are ready. We are ready to see the Masters of the Universe reduced to bitter tears.

You Heard the Music of the Night

Every afternoon for a few years now, she and I would shut off our PCs, gather up our stuff and walk out of the library together. We talked about everything and nothing. We would take deep breaths and describe the weather, the season, a distant fire or a budding tree we smelled on that breeze. Her nose was better than mine, but mine is pretty good. Each breath held stories from far and near, and we considered them during the walk from the library to the street, across the street and up the sidewalk, where we parted company every day. Yesterday, I heard secondhand that a brain scan revealed no activity, which signaled the end of speculation. When I put on my coat in the afternoon, she had not asked, “Are you ready, m’dear?” and never would again. I walked to the curb and crossed the street without looking, and cried all the way home. What with all the not-looking, it’s kind of a miracle I didn’t get flattened by a semi.

You’ll Be My Day And Night

Time and again, I come back to the fez.

A hat either fits or does not fit on one’s head, suits or does not suit one’s style. I happen to love the fez, though I have no cultural attachment to it and it doesn’t amplify my already ample beauty. Which is ample. For a party years ago, I cut up my hat to make a pattern. I then wrote instructions for a friend in Wisconsin whose access to paper fezzes was spotty at best. Some sacrifices must be made!

You and Your Paper Fez

You’ll need:
• One (1) red stencil.
• One (1) buttload. Sturdy red posterboard. 24” x 36”.
• One (1) pencil.
• One (1) pair. Scissors.
• One (1) bottle. Elmer’s Glue.
• One (1) box. Straight pins.
• One (1) bag. Wussy rubber bands.
• One (1) roll. Scotch tape.
• Optional: first aid kit, helpful pets.

Run with scissors. Spill glue. Draw on walls. Perforate fingers. Pre-disastered, you are now ready to begin.

1. Lay stencil on one sheet of posterboard. Trace with pencil. Now turn pencil over and use sharp lead side. If you are terribly clever (or an ordinary woman) you can fit three tracings per posterboard.
2. Carefully, use scissors to cut out your paper fez. Keep first aid kit handy.
3. Fold Part A toward Part B, stopping when A and B are perpendicular to each other.
4. Fold individual tabs to form right angles from Part A.
5. Lay Part A on floor such that tabs stick up like dead spider legs.
6. Gently bend Part B until ends meet and B forms a conic section. When it looks like an upside-down fez, glue matched ends together.
7. Immediately, pin together wet, gluey ends. Nothing fancy. Just pin like you’re torturing a voodoo doll.
8. Secure wet, gluey, pinned Part B with rubber bands. Let dry for 12 hours.
9. Re-glue when helpful pets discover snapping rolling pin cushion toys.
10. Tape tabs to inside of Part B. Remove pins and rubber bands. Garnish and serve.

This is obviously meant to be silly, though the fez has a very serious history. If you think back, you will remember mention of it in The Little Prince.

Grownups, you will recall, may be completely fooled by the appearances of things. In the story, a scientist presents a theory to a conference in traditional Turkish attire, complete with fez. Because the grownups can’t see past his appearance, the scientist is dismissed out of hand. Then traditional attire is outlawed in Turkey. The scientist presents his theory again in Western costume and his theory is accepted. It is a triumph of form and an accident of function.


During the reign hi[sic] the Sultan Mahmud Khan II (1808-39), a European code of dress gradually replaced the traditional robes worn by members of the Ottoman court. The change in costume was soon emulated by the public and senior civil servants, followed by the members of the ruling intelligentsia and the emancipated classes throughout the Ottoman Empire. While European style coats and trousers were gradually adopted, this change did not extend to headwear. Peaked or broad brimmed headdresses such as the top hat did not meet the Islamic requirement that men should press their heads to the ground when praying. Accordingly the Sultan issued a firman (royal decree) that the checheya headgear in a modified form would become part of the formal attire of the Turkish Empire irrespective of his subjects’ religious sects or millets.

In post-Ottoman Turkey, the fez was discouraged & ultimately banned under the leadership of the revered Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) through the Hat Law in 1925 & the Law Relating to Prohibited Garments in 1934.

This omits mention of the riots that ensued. It’s just a hat, you see. Nothing serious until the shooting starts. I should tell you my co-worker has been out with a backache for a couple of weeks that was actually spinal meningitis, and two days ago her heart stopped. She is currently on life support and the doctors have advised her family they should pull the plug. I walked with her to our cars one Thursday afternoon, talking about our Thursday evening plans, and now we find ourselves bargaining with the snake. What do we see here, as children? As grownups? What is before our eyes?

It’s A Big Enough Umbrella

Attention Sunday morning talking heads: this is how it’s done.

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That was last night. So what the fuck is with the Today Show this morning?

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People Need Some Reason To Believe

Lovely Drusy days ago discovered the scarf Mom knitted for my birthday. Atop the mantle is Drusy’s favorite perch, where the company of the ancient, carved bear with guitar does not deter our tiny friend from mewing at invisible companions. The scarf, a recent arrival, seems to comfort her. I cannot say why she might be distressed. She has the happiest life of anyone, human or otherwise, I’ve ever known. I have a collection of watches that stopped on my wrist because I’m quite magnetic. Drusy’s favorite toy is an orange plastic watch with a tiny ball bearing game on its face. She steals it and drags it all over the house. Sometimes, we find it on our bed like a present. Sometimes, the watch rattles piteously in a far corner of the house. She is our queen; we are mere servants.

And the Music’s Breaking

Scott Horton:

The idea that the 9/11 attacks raised the prospect of domestic military operations “for the first time since the Civil War” is infantile nonsense.

Suddenly, all that duck and cover bullshit I remember makes more sense. I didn’t imagine that! After the towers came down, I never bought for a moment that we faced an unprecedented threat. Dude, my fucking WOODEN DESK was supposed to protect me from nuclear holocaust, and I should be shaking in my shoes because four airliners killed a few thousand people? I’m no math genius but even I know my odds of being in the path of that disaster or another like it were truly close to fucking ZERO. But you know what I am afraid of? Avaricious, bed-wetting bureaucrats with dreams of goddamn empire and bloody-minded sychophantic lawyers to back ’em up.

Suppose al Qaeda branched out from crashing airliners into American cities. Using small arms, explosives, or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons they could seize control of apartment buildings, stadiums, ships, trains or buses. As in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, texting and mobile email would make it easy to coordinate simultaneous assaults in a single city.

In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C., these were hypotheticals no more. They became real scenarios for which responsible civilian and military leaders had to plan. The possibility of such attacks raised difficult, fundamental questions of constitutional law, because they might require domestic military operations against an enemy for the first time since the Civil War. Could our armed forces monitor traffic in a city where terrorists were preparing to strike, search for cells using surveillance technology, or use force against a hijacked vessel or building? In these extraordinary circumstances, while our military put al Qaeda on the run, it was the duty of the government to plan for worst-case scenarios–even if, thankfully, those circumstances never materialized.

I’m sure I’m not the first to say this but fuck Yoo and the horse he rode in on. We kids imagined ourselves en flambe every single day of primary school; we were always conscious of where the air raid shelters were. I handled the idea that thousands of people were in the path of a terrorist attack thirty-five miles from my address without making myself the Center of the Universe and there was no need to eviscerate my civil liberties, thank you. There was never any need to arm airports and subway stations. There was no need to put cameras at every intersection, nor is there any need now for an Orwellian Department of Homeland Security. There was no need to torture anyone. So fuck him, now and forever. Fuck him. Yoo doesn’t deserve the company of civilized human beings. He deserves the Rudolf Hess Spandau treatment, and he may get it, as Horton notes:

…I’m delighted that Yoo has published a piece discussing the circumstances in which he prepared the memo. Now I expect to hear no invocations of privilege when he is called to testify about it under oath.

Let the prosecutions begin.

And All One of A Kind

After work at the family store, where I’m listening to enchanting salsa today, I’m dashing off to help Siobhan tidy up her Dad’s house. He’s being released from the local health facility after winning a 3 games out of five Battleship tourney with his mortality. How could I not want in on the Swiffer and Windex action?

My Hands are Cold

Maybe I’m being a big silly but that little guy over there is an absolute mess – and I LOVE IT! He throws things everywhere. He’s often covered with doggy snacks just when I want a treat. Oh, who am I kidding? I always want a treat! The cats and I were talking about him and we think he’s just delicious, though they’re holding out for herring. Anyway anyway anyway, we were all talking and we’d just like you to know that though right now he’s eating a lot of macaroni we see progress. For instance, he’s finally walking now. That took forever. I mean, I was born and started walking but with this guy it’s different, but so he’s walking now FINALLY. We think he might scoot a little faster if you feed him more Snausages. And rawhide treats. We all think so. Don’t you agree?