Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A post about nothing

I have many of these posts about nothing, I've noticed.

A couple of points:

1. I'm sick. Your standard sore throat, stuffed up nose and body aches. I was never sick this frequently until I acquired my very own germ factory four-and-a-half years ago, and even then not until he began to attend preschool. Now every winter is one long tissue-fest. Puffs with lotion, please.

2. There is a bush in my neighbor's yard across the street that is alive with beautiful, light pink flowers. I also noticed a number of trees last weekend that have already started to bloom. And yet it was half-snowing this morning. About ten days ago I took a walk through several miles of neighborhoods and saw crocuses everywhere. There are also daffodils in bloom. I've never experienced anywhere else a winter that is cold enough to feel like winter and yet warm enough to let flowers bloom in mid-February, but I like it. Even North Carolina had a firmer line of demarcation between winter and spring.

3. Thomas has decapitated his stuffed toy dog and is alternately carrying around the head and body. This morning he detached an ear from the head and began toting that around as well. Sick little bastard. This, coupled with his new habit of dropping his toys in the toilet, is a little more puppy charm than I ordinarily require in my daily routine.

4. Here is Trailhead Kid's new video fixation. My brother showed it to me three or four years ago when youtube was just a twinkle in someone's eye and it was making the e-mail rounds. It's bizarre, but riveting and funny. I love when the cat starts zipping manically across the screen. I have no idea of the origin of this video or it's meaning, if any, in pop culture. But I love it anyway.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Disgorge your Oscar ramblings here

Congressman. Senator. Two-term Vice President. Nobel Peace Prize nominee. SNL host. Academy Award nominee winner.

Jeez, what a slacker.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lions and tigers and scrotums, oh my!

Well, I'm late to this party but I keep seeing it floating around the internets so I have to mock it, particularly in light of the recent "Balls!" post. It appears that a number of librarians have fainted clean away over a word that appears on the first page of this year's Newberry Medal winner, Susan Patron's children's book The Higher Power of Lucky.


As in:

The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

“Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book continues. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”

Maybe if she'd just followed TK's example and used the word "balls," she wouldn't be in this kind of trouble. But now that I mention it, what kind of trouble is she in?
“This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope, but they didn’t have the children in mind,” Dana Nilsson, a teacher and librarian in Durango, Colo., wrote on LM_Net, a mailing list that reaches more than 16,000 school librarians. “How very sad.”
And then Higher Power zoomed from the high 600's on Amazon to the top 40. Nice trouble, if you can get it.

But back to the librarian. Is she serious? I mean that. I don't mean to mock her individually, but when I read that quote I really saw it as a symbol of the increasing silliness of American society. That, and I suspected instantly that it wasn't about the kids at all, but about librarians' own discomfort with the word. Because I have to tell you, any ten-year old that doesn't know -- or hasn't at least once heard -- the proper name for the sack in which a male's testicles reside has not been properly educated. It's really just that simple.

And though it's not remotely the point, let's not kid ourselves that most ten-year olds don't know what we're talking about here. As Tony pointed out at lunch the other day, "Scrotum? Are you kidding? My eleven-year old already knows what teabagging is." (For those of you who -- ahem -- do not, go here to find out.) But like I said, not the point.

On a larger scale, the real problem with this attitude is that it's a symptom of how twisted the American view of sex is. An author uses the correct word for a sex organ (on a dog, no less), in a piece of quality writing, and hysteria ensues. But the stuff discussed here is all over the place. In short, I'm tempted to conclude that many Americans are most threatened by authentic, earthy depictions of sex and life. As long as it's superficial and as tawdry as possible, we're good!

This phenomenon is also reflected in the public breastfeeding debates. In our society, this is considered ho-hum:

But if you really want to stir up shock and controversy in this country, put this image on the cover of your magazine:

When that image appeared, this is what happened:
"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third.
In a poll of 4,000 readers, nearly a quarter were negative. The linked article also observes:
The evidence of public discomfort isn't just anecdotal. In a survey published in 2004 by the American Dietetic Association, less than half — 43 percent — of 3,719 respondents said women should have the right to breast-feed in public places.
So I ask you, what is the world coming to when a children's book can't use the word scrotum in an entertaining, non-lascivious manner?

(Commenters tempted to be peurile about the images -- and you know who you are -- please don't prove my point that easily. If you can't make a substantive comment, kindly shut the hell up.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good dog

Everybody give it up for Velvet, the black lab mix who, by snuggling close to her humans, probably saved their lives on Mt. Hood.

I'd note that Velvet bears a striking resemblance to a certain Alpha female we lost last summer.

Yeah, I wish

You are Cleopatra

Beautiful and Charming. You are able to persuade anyone to do anything you would like, because of your hotness and charisma. You are an expert in gaining power over anyone you choose.

Take this quiz at

Monday, February 19, 2007

You say tomato, I say testicle

Actual conversation tonight:

Trailhead Kid: Hey, mommy, what are these little balls down by my penis?

Me: Those are your testicles. And the little sack they're in is called your scrotum. But you can just call them your testicles.

Trailhead Kid: But I want to call them my BALLS!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007


I'm swimming upstream here, folks, trying to finish something before I write the next Al Gore post -- or anything else. There's no use trying to do two different kinds of writing in one day (week?). Legal writing sucks up all the air in any given mental room. I'm just not that mentally versatile.

So I got nuthin.' Agin.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Gore


In 2002, Gore asked Malone to stop a draft effort he had begun; Malone did. Malone started up again and, so far, Gore hasn't waved him off.

"The difference is dramatic. His time has come," Malone said. "We're raising tens of thousands of dollars fairly easily. Our mailing lists are growing so quickly we have to buy new computers."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I know you've all been waiting breathlessly for this

In the comments to the post below this one, Wasteland asked, in that charming personaljokespeak we generally use to communicate with one another, whether I'm ready to "officially announce my endorsement" for 2008, as did this insufferable egomaniac we used to work with back in 2000. I don't remember which candidate this woman (whom I regularly referred to as "The Shameless Self-Promoter") "endorsed" back in 2000.

But it's at least possible it was the same guy I'm going to endorse in this post.

Yep. That's it. The energy-saving, compact fluorescent light bulb just illuminated in your head and you thought to yourself, "What's she talking about? Al Gore's not running."

Oh, yeah? Prove it. But, but, he's said he's not running over and over again, you think to yourself.

Nope. He hasn't, actually. Listen, I parse words for a living. The difference between an "and" and an "or" in my world can mean the difference between life and death, poverty and riches, prison and freedom. And in this case, the difference between "not running" and "not planning to run" can be a presidential candidacy or an honorable post-political life gathering nominations for Oscars and Nobel Prizes.

Neither is really all that shabby, but there really is a stark difference between the two.

Every time someone has e-mailed me claiming that it's official this time, Al's not running, too bad so sad, I've clicked over, read his words carefully, and discerned that he has said nothing of the kind. The clincher for me came when everyone started telling me his son had said he wasn't running. So I read the thing, and young Albert goes on and on about how toxic the political environment is and how polluted with money, and then he says this:

[B]ut I know that he has no plans to run in 2008."
Sounds like a talking point to me. That's some amazing family discipline, I tell ya. It's a good thing Bloggerdad never went into politics as a candidate, because there's no freakin' way our family could stay on message like that. This is what it would be like trying to get us to do that.

So, don't tell me that Al Gore isn't running for President, because you don't know whether he is or not. I don't know whether he is or not.

I can tell you this -- his campaign manager from 2000 thinks he's running. His wife said last summer that she would support him if he ran. This columnist for the Boston Globe thinks he might run, and this article in Rolling Stone just begged him to.

I'm not saying he'll run. But he sure hasn't ruled it out. There is no good reason for him to announce -- or even decide on -- a candidacy too early. He can afford time to think, observe, and consider. His film has been nominated for an Oscar, he's just been nominated for the Nobel Prize, and he has a new book coming out in May.

The bottom line for me is this. I'm with Al until it's crystal clear he's not running. And I understand that could still happen.

In the next post, I'll tell you why I'm for Gore, why I think he'd run away with the nomination, and why I think he'd win in the general election. So please save your comments on those issues until the next post. This post should only be for why you think I'm crazy for thinking he might run. That and expressions of adoration and hope for Mr. Gore's candidacy.

If you're so inclined, go here and ask him to run. But go watch this first. It's hysterical.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Minor housekeeping detail

I have installed haloscan, which means commenting will be slightly different. Fortunately, you folks are all intelligent enough to figure it out. I was getting annoyed with some commenting issues with New and Improved Blogger, and I decided to circumvent them by installing haloscan.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Florida vids

Well, here's the footage of the anhingas. The first one is of an anhinga trying to cram a fish down its gullet. The second is a short clip of some two-day-old anhinga chicks in a nest just off the trail in the Glades. On the first clip, many of you will recognize the voice of the, ahem, narrator.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dang but she was good

I'm re-reading Molly Ivins' hilarious Shrub: The short but happy political life of George W. Bush, which was published in 2000. Last night I came upon the following snippet:

For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard-ass - at a guess, to make up for being an upper-class white boy. But it's also a common Texas male trait. Somebody should probably be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with Saddam Hussein, but that's beyond the scope of this book.

Oh, my.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Annoyance has rendered me inarticulate

Okay, people. Here's the "don't be a dipshit" lesson for the day.

If you should be tempted, while speaking of Barack Obama*, to use the word "articulate," do the following:

1. Stop.
2. Scrape brain of the residual, unconscious racism that applies such a low standard to -- knock me over with a feather -- the only presidential candidate in this race with brown skin.
3. Continue.

I realize, given our current President's tendency to mangle even the simplest sentence, that facility with the English language is no longer a given in those who would aspire to our nation's highest office. (Which makes this all the more absurd.) But people, no one looks at Joe Biden** or, say, John Edwards and says, "wow, he's articulate."

What friggin' year is it again?

*Incidentally, I don't support Obama. He seems a little too conciliatory for my tastes. I want someone who will go toe-to-toe with the Republican bullshit machine. (Like, ahem, Jim Webb.) I like that he went after Fox News aggressively for their manufactured madrassa story, but I'd like to see him apply some of that aggression to the Republicans destroying our country.

** Senator Biden has now opened his presidential campaign with a major gaffe. And it's not the first time he's made a, shall we say, racially unfortunate comment. I like him in the Senate; he passes the "thwack the Republicans" test on occasion. But there is absolutely no way I will support him in the primary.