Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Onward, Sister Souljah

Did you see the Democratic debate last night? Did you think that Obama missed having a "Sister Souljah Moment" over whether or not he denounced Louis Farrakhan?

That's the phrase that popped into my head, and apparently, great minds think alike. Or more specifically, "A bunch of people who comment on Althouse think just like me."

There is also a debate there about whether "reject" is the same as "denounce." My favorite response is by Mortimer Brezny:

Denunciation is far more severe than rejection. You reject a girl when you turn her down for a date; that doesn't mean you openly declare her to be a force of evil.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Even Newer Lamp

Remember when I bought this lamp?

The bad kitties broke it, and yesterday I bought this lamp:

It's made of iron and copper, but I'm sure they'll find a way to break it.

I think it looks classy, like something an artsy rich person would have, even though I bought it at Crate & Barrel. But it lacks the visual snap of the first lamp. So what I'll do is rearrange the artwork in the apartment so that there are large black and white prints or photographs on the wall behind the lamp.

The next thing I have to do is go out and buy large black and white prints or photographs.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Same, Only Different

Today would have been Jim's 61st birthday, and to celebrate it I'd invited about a dozen or so friends, relatives and neighbors over last night. I wasn't even sure I could fit a dozen people into my living room, but in folding chair, plates-on-laps mode, it worked.

Everyone brought something to eat. Some people brought their own folding chair.

I'd pulled together an iTunes playlist of Jim's favorite music and a small album of pictures of Jim through the years that we were together, but mostly what everyone was interested in was sitting and eating and talking. Later, I realized that the best memorial had been when I did an impression of Jim saying "Don't throw that out!" and everybody laughed because they remembered what Jim sounded like.

The last guest helped me take the trash into the back yard. When I got back upstairs, the apartment smelled like food that I don't buy. It was a pleasant smell, just strange, as if I were someone else.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Taking a vacation day and waiting for some furniture to be delivered, in the middle of the biggest snowstorm in two years.

P.S.: I just remembered I had furniture delivered during that snowstorm, too. So if you want to predict the weather, give me a call and find out if I've ordered furniture.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Things That Cracked Me Up Today

Having a sucky day of work, and these things made me laugh at loud here in the cube.

This headline from "The Borowitz Report":

Obama Calls Plagiarism Flap ‘Best of Times, Worst of Times’
Tells Hillary: ‘Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner’
and this excerpt:

For his part, Mr. Obama seems to have moved past the controversy altogether, greeting his audience at a campaign rally in El Paso with his trademark welcome: “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”
From "Sideways Mencken":
I've gone to the total shaved-head thing. I look like an albino turtle. It's cold here, so I go about in a long, navy topcoat, with a graphite scarf, grown-up slacks and miserably uncomfortable shoes, all of which disappear in the gloom of night, so that I end up looking like a floating hard-boiled egg with glasses.
And this, from "The Sky Is Bigger There":
The stove mysteriously sitting in the middle of the room is the only sign that there was ever a kitchen in this house.
Okay, doesn't sound so funny, right? You have to see the visuals.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hunter-Gatherer Mel Displays Her Kill

IKEA boxes.

IKEA food.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Another James Who Left Too Soon

Jimmy Stephenson Junior was my cousin. He wasn't my blood cousin, but our fathers knew each other from the age of six, and there was a time in my childhood when I saw the Stephensons more than I saw my own relatives.

They were part of a core group of families, all with kids around my age, that had emerged from my father's old neighborhood and with whom I spent weekends and vacations, until we all got to that point where you'd rather smoke pot with your little friends than go to the lake, the beach and the amusement park with your parents.

His mother and my mother had kept in touch, so you hear news from the mothers: This one got married, that one dropped out, whatever. Jimmy had gone into the Steamfitters Union like his father and my father, and then studied nursing, and worked alternately as a steamfitter and as a nurse. He retired from both last year. He got married, had a couple of kids, still played the saxophone.

His sons are grown men now and they were at his wake last night. One looks like him and the other bears an eerie resemblance to Jimmy Senior as he looked when I was a kid. To see them standing next to each other was like seeing my life flash in front of my eyes, a feeling not dispelled by the wreath over the casket that said "Beloved Grandfather."

As the mothers and fathers drop off this earth, my generation's been trying to continue the tradition of keeping in touch, but it doesn't have the same emotional resonance as it did for our parents. It's like that for everybody: You go from this seemingly secure little pocket of people when you're a little kid. Then your universe expands and you're thrown across the sky like distant stars.

Then there's a wedding, or a funeral, or a wake, and the universe contracts again, and you get there and say to yourself, "Who are these people?"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Maybe I Should Answer, "It's Totally Acceptable to Eat the Poor."

Every time I take this policital compass test, I end up placing in exactly the same spot.

Perhaps it was designed by Left-Libertarians, and they're lonely.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Here's a Title That Would Give My Mother A Heart Attack

"The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen."

But look, Ma! This guy made a lot of money!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"A single marker spares the surviving spouse the awkward feeling created by the not-yet inscribed, second half."

Window-shopping headstones.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Everyone Knows It's Windy

Trash can lids are flying like Frisbees in the back yard.

(Note: This isn't a sepia-toned photograph; it's the actual color of the room.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ashley Wednesday

Only six and a half weeks to Easter Cats:

(Pongo and Phoebe, my original cats that I adopted around Easter of 1985.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Duper

I actually watched the Super Bowl last night. I even watched the pre-game show, which had a film where dozens of athletes recited the Declaration of Independence. "Okay, I get it," I said. "We became a separate country, and now it's time to play football."

If I'd turned the game off five minutes before the end, I would have thought the Patriots had it wrapped up. But then the ball went flying across the whole state of Arizona and Plaxico Burress placed it on the other side of the goal and boom, the Giants won. I could hear the cheers from the Riv, down the block, and even on the streets. It was like New Year's Eve. It was called, "At least one New York team didn't suck this season!"

Of course, I really watched it for the commercials. One of the actors in one of the CareerBuilder commercials looked familiar. My sister-in-law called to tell me it was Danny Kinsella, who we knew from comedy club days many years ago.

I'm changing my name to Plaxico, because it's a cool name.

Friday, February 01, 2008

To Kindle or Not To Kindle

Amazon has a whole page of stuff devoted to selling their electronic reading device, the Kindle. I love the visual where you can store a whole stack of books on this little "Readman" device the size of a paperback. The minimalist in me, who sold/gave away hundreds of books last year, loves the idea of less clutter, and not having to dispose of hundreds of books again.

But the sensualist in me loves the feel and the smell of books, and the thrill of the hunt of returning from the Strand with fresh kill after corralling a herd of trade paperback.

You can download a best seller for about ten bucks. Oh, but you can get a book for a buck at a thrift store, or free in the downstairs hallway of my apartment building. Yes, but your choices are rather limited. And besides, I can still get a book for a buck, or free, even after getting a Kindle, but I can't go into Barnes & Noble and get a best seller for ten bucks.

The device itself is $399, and they're out of stock right now and have to make more in a hurry. Whenever somebody has to make more of something in a hurry because the initial demand is bigger than they'd expected, the "hurry" batch always has problems. This was true ten years ago with the Zip Drives that emitted the "Iomega Click of Death" and it was also true back in 1984 with Akita dogs. So maybe that'll determine whether or not I get one. Or maybe not.

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