Friday, July 28, 2006

Cute Baby Stuff

Today, when I pulled into the pool parking lot: "Yay, the pool!"

Later today, when I gave her a juice box: "Yay, juice box!" [repeated several times while hopping up and down]

And the end of the day, playing in her pretend kitchen:

Me: What are you making?

Z: Mac 'n' cheese!

Me: Mmm, sounds good. Is it ready?

Z: No, not yet! Still waiting. Few minutes.

Me: Is it ready now?

Z: Yes.

Me: Can I have a bite?

Z: "Yes." [opens the lid and hands me a piece of pretend macaroni]. "Here you go!"

Who likes Freddy's?

I do, I do. And lots of other people, too. Picking up some pizza to share with Baby Z. this afternoon, I ran into John Stirrat of Wilco fame. Who knows what other sort of famous people would have been there had it not been a million degrees at noon?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Dress Blues

Post 9/11, around the time of the start of the second Gulf War (which I was not against – wrongly, I’m not too proud to admit) a lot of people noted how relatively light and fleeting the protests were. They did seem to lose steam quickly, didn't they? A lot of people also noted how few, far between and weak the artistic reactions were - music, movies, books. Paul McCartney would have to reunite the Beatles to live down “Freedom.”

So what's different now? The death toll, for one. The weight of those numbers has begun to take effect, and the quality and power of artistic responses (in books, music and movies) seems to have gone up significantly. One of my favorite bands, the Drive-By Truckers, released a great song this year called "Aftermath U.S.A.," a subtle, sly track whose central metaphor is that life in America these days is like a horrible morning after, with one terrible, shocking revelation of the previous night’s behavior after another. The song's hilarious. But one of the other guys in that band just wrote this new song called "Dress Blues," inspired by the death of a classmate in Iraq, and it's absolutely wrenching. Really heart breaking.

"Dress Blues"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Oh, Come On!

This is an actual recent exchange with Donald Rumsfeld:

"Q: Is the country closer to a civil war?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I don’t know. You know, I thought about that last night, and just musing over the words, the phrase, and what constitutes it. If you think of our Civil War, this is really very different. If you think of civil wars in other countries, this is really quite different. There is - there is a good deal of violence in Baghdad and two or three other provinces, and yet in 14 other provinces there’s very little violence or numbers of incidents. So it’s a - it’s a highly concentrated thing. It clearly is being stimulated by people who would like to have what could be characterized as a civil war and win it, but I’m not going to be the one to decide if, when or at all."

For God's sake. I forget this guy was still around, and reading this stilted, dorm room piece of crap of a political place-holder of a position just makes me wish he would go away again. And they wonder why no one reads the news anymore. Isn't there a minefield this guy can inspect somewhere?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Currently Listening To...

Grace Jones: A Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions
The Complete Buddy Holly
Sarah Records (complete discography)
Wire: Pink Flag-Chairs Missing-154
Big Star: Third/Sister Lovers
Stars: Set Yourself on Fire
John Cale: Paris 1919
Echo and the Bunnymen: Siberia
Latin Playboys: Dose
John Martyn: Solid Air
Bruce Springsteen: Love, Tears and Mystery
The Roots: Things Fall Apart
Depeche Mode: The Singles – ’86-’98
Slayer: Christ Illusion

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Poor Baby!

Baby Z.'s been sick since about last Thursday. There's really nothing more pitiful than a sick toddler. She's just totally out of sorts and lethargic, spending long periods of time stretched out on the sofa like a teenager, requesting her favorite TV shows (which we're providing, since they make her happy). She's also not drinking much and eating less, which was of some concern during our hot weekend. But she seems to be recovering, albeit slowly. I look forward to our regular routine, though I must admit, even a little touch of the summer flu couldn't suppress her silliness instinct.

Speaking of instinct, and I suppose silliness as well, Baby Z. has thrown up a few times during this illness. The first time was all over me, but I quickly learned my lesson. After she tosses her cookies ... wait. For what? For the second and third waves of vomit. So the next time she puked, I was ready, and managed to catch most of it in a bib. And Alma? She hasn't picked up on the pattern yet and still swoops in to console Z. (which is natural!) after the first upchuck only to be coated in more vomit seconds later. Me, I wait for it to be done before I do the hugging. And then I do a big load of smelly laundry.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Picking Fights With Lyndon LaRouche

The other day, heading into the Post Office, I saw a table set up outside with a big “Impeach Cheney” banner hanging off its side. Hmm, I thought. It’s not often you see someone calling to impeach the Vice President. President Job, yes. Vice President Jerk? People just don’t like the guy. So I wanted to see what these nuts were up to, and frankly it didn’t matter to me that they also had a LaRouche sign up. In fact, all the better! Bring it on!

“Why do you want to impeach Dick Cheney?” I asked. “Why not impeach Bush”

“Because Bush is stupid,” he replied. No argument from me there. “Besides, Cheney is the real threat. Here, let me show you.”

He reached for a glorified pamphlet and turned to a marked page. “See all these people?” he asked, pointing to what looked like yearbook photos of the usual Neo-Con crew. “They all trained under Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago.”

“I went to the University of Chicago.”

“But these people, including Dick Cheney, trained under Leo Strauss. Leo Strauss was a Platonist, but he wasn’t a real Platonist …”

Wow, way to win a guy to your cause, I thought. You're losing everyone at "Platonist."

“I know who Leo Strauss was,” I said, “What do you mean, they ‘trained’ under Strauss?”

“They were training to run the world, politically and financially.”

“Is ‘training’ the same thing as ‘studying?”

“Well, yes. But these men were training for world domination.”

“So what would impeaching Cheney achieve? I mean, I’m not sure of the rules, but wouldn’t that make Dennis Hastert the acting Vice President or something?”

“Well, anything is better than Cheney.”

“I don’t want Dennis Hastert to be Vice President, either.”

“The important thing is that Cheney is no longer in power.”

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted.” “Impeached doesn’t mean arrested. It just means he would be out of office. But Cheney would still be powerful. And Hastert would be Vice President, and would support the same policies.”

“Yes, but we want to remove him from the big picture, like what happened to Richard Nixon.”

“Did removing Richard Nixon from office make Henry Kissinger any less powerful?” I asked, rhetorically. “He’s still running around causing trouble.”

“Yes,” said the guy, either losing steam, losing brainpower or losing track of his talking points. “But if you read this,” he said, pulling out a new pamphlet, “you’ll learn all about the people who are running the international banking system …”

It was here I broke away, since it was only a matter of time before he blamed it all on the Jews. And besides, I had to get home.

“No thanks,” I said, turning, and I think he’d just as soon no longer bark up my tree.

The sad thing is, standing in the Post Office before the exchange; I had devised a whole potential putdown/conversation that went something like this:

Nutball: “Would you like to help support Lyndon Larouche?”

Me: “Lyndon LaRouche? Isn’t he in jail?”

Nutball: “Yes, but it’s a conspiracy by the Jews/Illuminati/Masons/Bush Regime, etc.”

Me; “Have you ever been to jail?”

Nutball: “Um, no.”

Me: “Me neither. Want to know why?”

Nutball: “Why?”

Me: “Because I don’t break the law.”

At that point I would walk off, leaving him stammering for a response to my reductionist logic. In your face, hypothetical debate opponent who, alas, lost before he even started.

By the way, what’s up with Lyndon LaRouche? He’s out of prison and still alive, so why doesn’t he at least do the rounds on the talking head circuit? No one is too crazy for midday on CNN or Fox. These folks have 24 hours of programming to fill, so get on the ball, LaRouche!

Lot Full

Not long ago, Oak Park got a nice, new library. It’s a real gem, a cornerstone of the community. Best of all, it has on-site underground parking, free if you spend less than 2 hours there (and really, it’s a library, so who’s going to spend more than 2 hours?).

What’s odd is that outside the parking garage is a sign that displays one of three things: “closed,” “open” and “full.”

Now, “closed” makes perfect sense, and a couple of times already I’ve been glad to know that the place was closed before I tried stopping in. I suppose “open” serves the same purpose, though it’s a little less necessary, since if it’s not the one it must be the other, right? But “full” continues to baffle me.

Like a club, public pool or any other place with a lot of traffic, the library’s parking lot may have a maximum capacity but can never be “full,” per se. There’s always traffic in and out, and unless there’s someone vigilantly watching every open spot, waiting for that capacity to be reached with their hand hovering over the “full” button, the “full” sign will never be accurate. Indeed, I’ve yet to enter the garage when the sign said “full” and not found a spot.

Case in point: just now, as I turned in to the allegedly “full” garage, someone was pulling out. So, immediately, the garage isn’t full and the sign’s inaccuracy was made blatantly obvious. Yet driving down into the submerged lot, I counted a whopping 9 other open spots, not including 3 or 4 handicapped spots.

Full? More like full of it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

"Pirates ..." Spin

Earlier this morning, the tease on the front off the New York Times stated, from the review, that:

""Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," starring Johnny Depp, is "a movie with no particular interest in coherence, economy or feeling." A.O. Scott writes.

Now it reads:

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," starring Johnny Depp, is "a glistening, sushi-grade chunk of franchise entertainment," A.O. Scott writes.

Both statements are still in the review, btw. But - hmm - which does a better job of getting butts in seats?

I wonder if someone got an angry phone call?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Hey Ya" Countdown Clock, Redux

I should have known better. After just scant days I stumbled across "Hey Ya" during the Oak Park Fourth of July parade. Figures. Time to start the wait all over again! Will I make it a week?

Also, that reminds me: it's time to reset the respective "1812 Overture" and "Washington Post March" clocks, too, though I suspect it'll be precisely a year before I hear those ones again. Call it a hunch. Unless, of course, I listen to Bill Frisell's wiggy version of the latter some time in the nearer future, which is not out of the realm of possibility.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Hey Ya" Coundown Clock

Today I heard "Hey Ya" for the first time in a couple of months. So let the countdown clock begin again!

"Hey Ya" by Outkast. Last heard: July 1st, 2006, 4:57pm.

When and where will the song strike next? Chain restaurant? Mall? Movie trailer? My ears are open!