They seem at first glance a motley assemblage for a single stage. Who could have less in common than Mark Twain, adrift on the Mississippi, and Emily Dickinson, secluded in her father's house on Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts? In the Homestead, as the imposing brick mansion was called, Dickinson wrote her enigmatic poems and cryptic letters, a verbal thicket against intruders. She never left the house except to tend the hyacinths and heliotrope in her garden, or to cut back the cascading honeysuckle, which, as her niece next door observed, "lured the hummingbirds all day." Her hermit ways did not go unremarked. When asked why she shunned men and women, Emily Dickinson explained, "because they talk of hallowed things---aloud---and embarrass my dog."
Blue Wren, a blogging buddy and a female veteran who served in the Air Force during peacetime, writes:
John McCain, a Vietnam war veteran and POW who has supported Bush Administration cuts in VA health care funding and service for veterans in the past, has a new bright idea about how to save America money.
"Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s call to "concentrate veterans’ health care on those with combat injuries" is raising questions about the Arizona senator’s commitment to funding the ailing VA system."
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., said a system that treats combat veterans and non-combat veterans differently is inherently unfair. “We can care for both combat veterans and non-combat veterans if we just decide it is an important thing to do,” Filner said Thursday, one day after McCain talked at a Dover, N.H., town hall meeting about the need to concentrate veterans’ health care on people with injuries that 'are a direct result of combat.'"
It's infuriating that people like Bush and McCain would even consider trying to economize by refusing or delaying health care to veterans who've served their country honorably and in good faith while at the same time spending billions on a war that was started through dishonesty, hubris and greed.
Count me in among those who responded to this news with an emphatic "You've got to be shitting me."
I’m going to write several negative thoughts about a movie that I liked. A movie that I’m sure most of you really loved. If you must be so serious about The Batman, please click away so your delicate psyches are not damaged for all eternity.
Also, I’ve seen the movie and that’s why I’m writing about it. Which means that I might write something you may not want to read if you haven’t seen it.
Heath Ledger was good. Of course he was. He was a great actor. What a fun part to just let loose and play for all it’s worth! I do wish he would’ve done more with the sound of his voice. He kept it up behind his nose, at the same high pitch throughout the movie. I wish he would’ve slowly let it drop down about an octave and then back up again every now and then.
Maggie Gyllenhaal was miscast. She’s more believable as creative quirky than sexy glamorous. She couldn’t even fill out her dress, let alone that role.
Maybe I could play Catwoman?
I did not believe that The Batman and Harvey Dent would both be in love with her. Who should have been cast then? Maybe Charlize Theron? It would’ve worked with Harvey Dent, but that girl would eat The Batman alive.
And TAT, whose web page says you’ll probably like them if you like Rancid.
As we were driving to Cleveland, Blue Kid and his friends were jamming the whole way to something I would call very rancid-ish.
I’m not an old geezer like you. I know rancid when I hear it.
Blue Kid checked his pocket for his ticket and I turned down the radio and said, “You know what? You should make sure you save all your ticket stubs. I wish I had all my ticket stubs.”
Matt piped up from the backseat, “Yeah, my uncle has all his ticket stubs from all the concerts he ever went to. All those old 70s bands.”
In that moment, I felt my heart break. In two. Then leap out of my chest and onto an old stage where the ghost of young Pete Townshend stood, smashing it to smithereens, along with his electric guitar.
Why didn’t I save all my ticket stubs? Why? Why? Why?!
I could...have had...them all...
In some old shoebox, buried in the back of some closet, where I would never be able to find them even if I tried.
He turned it up even louder and started playing air guitar.
I dropped them off about a quarter of a mile from the concert where throngs of teenagers were doing the sort of teenage things their parents rarely get to see.
Like being completely and totally happy.
Lots of smiling and laughing. Not a sullen teenage face in the crowd.
I noticed one girl, about 16, on the short side, long dark, curly, wild hair, wearing large yellow, plastic-rimmed sunglasses. The boy she was with ran a few steps in front of her and she took a running start and jumped up on his back, hair flying in all directions, tossing her head back, laughing as she hugged him around the neck.
Such unacceptable behavior, I thought to myself as I reached into my glove box. I pulled out a CD and popped it in. You just keep thinking all that rancid-ish music is worth your time. I, myself, choose to listen to real music where a person can actually sing and where there’s an actual melody.
The Skimmer and I met his mom for breakfast this morning. We were a few minutes late, as kids always are for some reason. When we pulled into the parking lot, there she was, sitting on a bench outside the restaurant patiently waiting. (She had probably been there for more than a half hour. Because that seems to be the way parents always are for some reason.)
We parked and walked over to her. My mother-in-law is not the sort of person who says Hi or Hello. She’s the type who starts right in on a story or immediately asked you a question.
She’ll call me.
Her: “Do you remember that Nissan Maxima? From 1997? Did it get good gas mileage?”
I’ve never gotten used to it. I never pass the pop quiz. (Did I tell you she was a teacher for 30 years?) I always have to ask her to repeat her question so I can adjust to the frame of mind she’s in.
This morning we walked up to her and before I could get out a Good Morning, she held up a book and said, “Let me tell you one thing right now. You have to read this book!”
I didn’t even have to have her repeat what she said. I recognized the book immediately. I adjusted right away! I passed the pop quiz with flying colors.
“Well, this is the best book. It's good you’ve read it.”
I told her about Steve’s blog and how I’ve gotten to “know” him through his website and what a joyful person I think he is. I told her about Steve’s wife, Connie, and what a sweetie she is and how she would have made a much better wife than me in the 1930s.
Nah, I didn’t really tell her about the 1930s housewife quiz. Because once I said the words blog and website, I saw her eyes glaze over. She’s not all that interested in website shenanigans. I could tell she felt websites aren’t real, but books are.
We talked a little more about Steve's book and I told her about his other book, Eavesdropping. Then we were called to our table and had our breakfast.
An hour or so later, we were ready to leave and I picked up her book.
She said, “You’re not going to take that, are you?!”
“Oh, no! I was just looking at it.”
“Good. Because I’m giving it to my friend, Helen. I think everybody should read this book.”
I have to agree with her there. If any of you haven’t read Planet of the Blind yet, order your copy today.
Because my mother-in-law says so. Which, believe me, should be enough.
Fargo is the gas station complex a few miles from here, located near a major highway exit and also a turnpike exit. Lots of strange people just passing through. Possibly on the lam. I call it Fargo because I’ve seen and experienced some strange things at that place. Like the Coen Brothers have set up all the scenes. And the strangeness has been so consistent over the years that it wouldn’t surprise me at all to pull into the parking lot one day and see someone’s leg sticking out of a wood chipper.
I’d start calling it No Old Gas Station for Blue Girls, (My friendo would like the sound of that) but, I like the sound of Fargo better.
The other night, around 10, I was out of Advil and had a headache from being out in the sun all day, and Fargo was the only place open.
I walked into the station, grabbed a box of Advil, and before I could step to the counter, a young guy stepped in front of me.
He was sunburned with bloodshot, blue eyes and short blonde hair. He was pretty cute. And pretty drunk, I think. But, definitely pretty ridiculous. He was very impressed with himself as he asked the young girl behind the counter for a box of Tiparillos.
Oh, how sophisticated. Hurry up! I have a headache!
His two friends were goofing off several feet away by the coffee machine and one yelled, “Get an extra box!”
The young girl behind the counter gave him another box, took his money and the three of them left.
Ten seconds later the thirty-something manager ran up to my right and spoke in low, urgent tones to the young female cashier.
I didn’t hear what he said to her. And all of a sudden, there was lots of commotion.
“What? What’s going on?” I asked the manager.
I’m thinking...a shooting? Mass murder? Al-Qaeda? Legs in wood chippers?
“She sold him tobacco! He’s not old enough!”
As the young girl ran to the front door, she yelled, “I can’t get fired!”
I stopped, turned around and looked at the guy, who was easily eight or nine years older than her. And more importantly, bigger than her.
“Are you really sending that young girl out into the dark parking lot alone to confront three guys?”
“Yeah. Well. It’s illegal.”
“You should go out there with her!”
He stood there, stunned, staring straight ahead, eyes as big as quarters, and choked out, “I don't want to go out there. I’m, I’m...I’m not brave.”
“Oh, for crying out loud. You shouldn’t send a young girl out alone like that!”
Just then a police officer walked through the front door with Mr. Tiparillo. And the young, scared girl.
The police officer wanted to see the manager. As I left the station, he still hadn't stepped up.
I feel sorry for anyone staring mortality in the immediate face after the flood of lyrical obituaries of former Fox News host and White House press secretary Tony Snow this weekend, which carried the cathedral-bell echo of those for William F. Buckley a few months ago. Such ardent testimonials set an impossibly high luminous bar of grace under pressure and gallant deportment for any current or future cancer patient and terminally ill person. Henceforth it will be considered "bad form" for any misfortunate individual or accident victim to contemplate their near death with anything less than radiant optimism, joy, good humor, stoic strength, generous consideration of others, an uncomplaining nature, and religious serenity. Regret, remorse, bitterness, pain, fear, crankiness, recrimination, and despair will be deemed selfish and immature, the night nurse or family member silhouetted in the doorway chiding the patient dwelling in negativity, "Why can't you be like Tony Snow, chipper to the last?"