Monday, October 31, 2011

Hey! You Wanna Trick Or A Treat?????

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Halloween Blizzard. I know all you east coasters got snow this weekend, but we had 28.4 inches of wet, heavy, sticky stuff that did not deter trick or treating in this neighborhood for one New York minute. The little shrub at the end of the walk leading to the front steps has a permanent dent where Misha’s best friend fell on it. We still refer to it the Evan Tepler Memorial Bush. 

I will admit I am anxious to see all the fairy princesses and super-heroes who will ring the doorbell this evening. I especially love the little ones who clearly had an active hand in costume creation…something that has been a long time tradition in this neighborhood. I don’t know too many of the parents these days since my guys are grown, but I like that the parade continues. So I shall blow up Hoskins, our resident skeleton, and hang him on the coat tree near the front door. The dog will hate it, but it’s only one night.

Or one would hope. Those of us living in America 2011 are going to continue to be subjected to the costume parade called the election cycle. I have a fun idea! Let’s play dress-up the candidates!

Well, it seems Madame Bachmann has turned in her Stepford Wife outfit and is now showing up as Serious Leader Barbie, complete with serious admiral's jacket, serious hair, and serious eyebrows. Unfortunately, they forgot to install serious mouth because the stuff that’s been coming out has been stand-up, not sea, worthy. Just yesterday, she announced she would rescind citizen status for children of illegal aliens who are born here. "We've got to end this anchor baby program.”
Aye, aye, Admiral!

Rick Santorum should go door to door dressed as Pope Benedict. Sanatorium actually said birth control is a “license to do things.” Kinda reminds me of the old ads that made us think if we used Tampax we could ride horses on the beach. I wonder if this guy does “it” with his wife. Maybe through a hole in a sheet. Which hole might be a matter of speculation.

And as not to discriminate, Rick Perry is just coming off as narcissistic wacko these days. Get that guy a Gilderoy Lockhart cape! The 20% flat tax plan is such an exercise in Magical Thinking that it makes you wonder just what he does as governor of Texas. Oh, wait…we kinda know the answer to that, don't we? Prayer rallies for rain. Jobs created with the same federal funding he vehemently opposes. And he wants to keep US Forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he wants to cut taxes. Excuse me, but how are we paying for that? I know! He must have a vault at Gringott's  Bank! I'm waiting for him to wave his magical thinking wand and send some Dementors to guard the border with Mexico.

Herman Cain could’ve gone as Vito Corleone, but the smoking campaign manager ad ruined that idea. What subliminal message is that supposed to be sending? Hmmmm. Take back America, bring back Joe Camel? But that smile at the end of the ad is so, so creepy.  I am going to have to go with Johnny Depp’s version of Willy Wonka on this one. That Willy Wonka is just plain scary with his hypno-eyes...and that same look is so well mirrored by Herman Cain at the end of that ad. Oompa-loompas watch your backs!

And oh, poor ol' Mitt Romney. His fish-in-a-boat routine continues to confound. First he points one way, then he flops around for a while and points another. Let’s just dress him up as The Scarecrow from Munchkinland and maybe he can trick-or-treat his way over the Rick (Gilderoy Lockhart) Perry's fortress to ask for a brain. 

Pick a wizard, any wizard. Makes no difference. One can only draw comfort that none of them have more than 21% of the poll votes. That's not enough to get elected dog catcher around here. I'm still trying to figure out if that's the trick or the treat. 

Wifely person’s Tip O’The Week
Late in the evening, watch to see if older kids are dressed as the candidates.
That’s always such an interesting tell.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bravada In Nevada ...or Send In the Clowns

Watching the Bravada in Nevada the other night, I was seriously confused. The barkers were talking outta both sides of their mouths so fast it was Exorcist quality head spinning; all that was missing was the pea soup. Without exception, they all promised to shrink government while getting rid of all those pesky environmental regulations that get in the way of job growth. They said there was too much government, that government has to get out of the everyday lives of Americans, and get out of the way of our pursuit of life and liberty.....

Except if you're a woman. Then, it's government's job to be wedged between your legs and totally telling you what you can and cannot do with your body

According to some Republicans, if a sperm happens to have a successful run-in with an ovum inside your uterus, you HAVE to have that baby.  Even if it puts your life is at risk, that fertilized egg takes precedence over your life. This new drive to control women's reproductive function is called "personhood," and it refers to a fertilized egg, not an implanted one. That speck is more important than the woman who is host to that run-in. A "personhood" amendment is currently on the ballot in Mississippi.

This is one very slippery slope. Superficially, the law appears to be a backdoor way to stop abortion, but conferring "personhood" on fertilized ova also runs the risk of criminalizing any hormonal birth control method that inhibits or prevents implantation of an egg. And, it could potentially be used to criminalize miscarriage and stillbirth. The law could require any miscarriage to be investigated as a possible homicide. That may not be the intent of the amendment, but it can be subverted to do just that.

Now, two tangents come to mind here. First, the only people who should be in a conversation about reproduction should be the woman and anyone she wants to include. As soon as you grant personhood to an egg, the government becomes an active participant. Of course, is it possible these fanatics are really saying “no sex unless it is a bona fide to attempt to conceive.” Gee, isn’t that awfully papist for some of those evangelical folks?

The second tangent hearkens back to this huge disconnect I’m having with Republicans saying government is too invasive in our lives, yet they are willing to invade my bedroom. Come to think of it, they want to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body at all times... so long as they don't have to pay for any of it. This circles back to the health insurance issue; I keep wondering why they want to force women to have babies but they don't want to help provide any mechanism to protect those children. 

You gotta pony up something if your're gonna sit at this table. Whether it's medical insurance or education funding, you cannot force us to breed unless you intend to support the result. If you wanna talk about getting government off our backs, I would suggest you begin by getting government out from between our legs. 

The more these clowns yammer, the more disheartened I become. I listen to the cheering audiences and I read other points of view, all in an effort to understand how whole segments of the population come to support a Perry or a Bachmann, a Cain, a Paul, or a Romney. Don't they understand that they're not going to get Social Security or Medicare either? Can it be they think that because they support this or that candidate they will be exempted?

The fornicating we're getting has to be worth the fornicating we're getting. So far, the Republicans are telling us how to fornicate, without donating much of anything to the cause. Not good enough. Put up or shut up, but either way, get the hell outta my bedroom.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Birth and death are highly personal experiences.
Unless you are intimately involved with either process at a given moment,
your opinion is probably not desired by those who are.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Urban Legend: There's Always A Backstory

Moving day 1978...

Once upon a time, about a zillion years ago when I was a newlywed, we moved into a little townhouse in Poughkeepsie. On the very first day, a girl and two boys walked out of the front door next to ours. I asked, "Is your mom home?" And when they all stopped laughing, the "girl" explained she was the mom and these were her sons, Ace, 11 and Bebop, 7. And thus, in a single moment the world changed for all of us.

Without going into all but the most important details, we learned she was also a newlywed, married on May 29th, 1977 (Steve's birthday, no less) and that her new husband was a major, a professor at West Point, and on a tour of duty in Korea. I think it took about 10 seconds: they bonded into some kind of macho guy-unit. Somewhere in there, Steve figured he might actually want to be a father so long as I could produce kids like Ace and Bebop. That was 34 years ago. And although the last time we saw those boys was on Minnesota moving day in 1978, we managed to stay in touch over the years. And that's how I knew that Ace grew up to become a big time artists' manager.

So Friday morning, as I was enjoying being home for Sukkot, I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down to do that rare thing: read the S'trib. There on the front page was a teaser - Keith Urban was finishing his North American tour Saturday night at the Target Center. KEITH URBAN!!!!! I jumped up and did the only thing I could. I emailed Ace:  "Are you in Minnesota???" "No," he said, "but I will be tomorrow." And we picked a place to meet.

The last time I saw Ace may have been 33 years ago when he was 12, but I recognized him immediately. There were hugs and tears and wonderful things to be said about that year we were all together. He remembered things I'd forgotten. That year had been important to the boys and that made me cry. He caught up on my own axeman's career, and we chuckled at how he and Misha are in the music business and Dave and Bebop are engineering types. (I guess we did manage to produce our own versions of Ace and Bebop.)

And then, we called his mom. You shoulda heard the screaming!

Yes...I took that picture!

Thus I ended up at the Keith Urban concert on Saturday night. I took my friend Elaine who knew far more about Keith's music than I did. Ace left tickets for me at the box office. The place was packed to the rafters; our seats were stage right, row five, and wonderful. We could see everything and then some. There was a playing platform right in front of us, so things were up close and personal. Raw energy pulsated through the venue. People were shouting and clapping and jumping up and down, and we were close enough to watch the band feed off the frenzy. From the moment they took the stage about 8:45 until the confetti cannons went off and they took their last bow at about 11:40, it was nonstop.

Keith Urban never stopped smiling. And I don't mean the plastic glued in place kind, but the kind that went right up to crinkle his  eyes...which we could see on the big screen over the stage. This is a man who loves what he does. He makes love to the crowd with his eyes,  his voice, and his body language, and they could not get enough. I've been to enough concerts (and managed a few in my salad days) to know the difference, and the difference, at least to me, is so pronounced. It may have been the last night of the tour, but they were refreshingly crisp, bright, and clean. He sparkled and from my vantage point, I could watch that entire house sparkle back. It was give and take, and a joy to watch.

Here's the thing: I was sparkling, too. The music pulsed right through me and carried me along with the crowd. No, I didn't know all the words like the swooning fans around me,  but I sure knew the beat and for the first time in a long time, I was dancing. The music wrapped me up and I didn't want it to let go. I wanted to be in the magic and I wanted to stay there. I felt alive. I felt like me.

All in all, this has been a really good chag. I went to the shul Sukkot dinner Friday night and had a good time. Shabbos morning was really nice, too. Then I had this incredible Saturday afternoon and night. And Sunday, I yakked away with Jen in Israel for a whole hour (thank you, Skype!) before  the junior son, wife and grandpuppy came over to help mulch leaves. It was fun. It's okay to have fun. Sukkot marks a change in seasons. Maybe this one will mark a change in me.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Kids are like a box of chocolates...
they're much more fun when you share them. 
Thank you, LAMW, for sharing yours. That made all the difference.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Gates Are Not Quite Closed

If I was Ziggy and this was ZJOD, I would be writing, "No intro today, folks," but I'm not, so I guess this is an official entry.  It would seem that ol' Spartacus here was felled by a head cold. I don't mean I had sniffilis with delicate little girl coughs, I mean I sounded like I was at the old guy coughing convention and my head was so stuffed with gunk it was coming out my eyeballs. I thought I'd developed sudden onset cataracts. I even stayed home from work as a concession to my boss who couldn't stand the hacking and the coughing coming from my corner. I think my teammates were equally relieved when it was learned I would finally stay home. 

Despite my failure to produce two pounds of my famous creamed herring for the break-fast, Cousin Laurie brought me groceries, drugs, and a potload of excellent chicken soup complete with light, fluffy matza balls. But as good as it was, and it was well beyond good, it was too late. 

Shofar made at labor camp Skarzysko-Kamienna in Poland in 1943
By Friday afternoon, erev Yom Kippur, it was pretty clear I wasn't going to make it to Kol Nidre that night and by Kol Nidre time I knew I wasn't going to make it to shul the next morning. No Kol Nidre, no Yizkor, no Ne'ila. I slept through it all. I couldn't tell who was more shocked: me or the kids. I mean, the junior son actually offered to pick me up TWICE and I had to turn him down! I had visions of me collapsing in the middle of shul like one of the old ladies with smelling salts and lacy handkerchiefs from my childhood... and that was not a comforting thought at all. And if you want to know the really ugly part, I couldn't even stay awake long enough to daven at home. I just slept. Coughed a lot, and slept some more. At least I fasted. I'm not sure it was intentional, but food was definitely not part of this equation.

But here's the part that surprises me the most: I don't have that clean-slate-after-Yom-Kippur feeling I usually have. I think not being in shul made a huge difference. I was apart from the kahal...the community... and even if it wasn't by choice, I still felt a pang of guilt about not standing with everyone, for everyone; for not being at Yizkor and Ne'ila. It's as if my old year has yet to end and I'm not quite ready to move forward. It is very much a dangle. 

But wait! Sukkot is almost here! There's hope

And that's the thing about running on Jewish time. It's never exact. It's a sundown, a star up, a wait...there's an exception, and an almost not quite. There's always room for debate and even then there's a wiggle. I love that. I love that there's not one simple answer and that it's a matter of structure and growth all at the same time. Just like a tree has a complex root system that keeps growing down while the trunk and branches keep growing up and out, we are the same way. Our roots are deep and our canopy is lofty and wide.

The mystic sages (including Reb Avishay of Midwood) assure me I still have a little time, that the gates remain open a smidge until Hoshanna Rabba, the 7th day of Chol ha'Moed Sukkot, when the decrees made on Yom Kippur are sealed for the last time. If you thought swinging a kappora chicken over your head was fun, you haven't lived until you've beaten willow branches on the floor.

So for Sukkot, I guess I'm going to have to spend a little private time catching up and I'll even promise to march around the shul with a lulav and etrog (even if my father insists this is a pagan ritual that should be banned.)

I will do what I can to close out the old books while I realign my chi for the new year.  And maybe I'll even rotate the tires. We'll see.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Asking sacred guests to your sukkah this year?
Think outside the box - invite someone you don't know

Monday, October 3, 2011

You Are What You Wear

I have a cold. My head is all stuffed up and I feel froggy. I can feel my clothes on my skin and my hair is just limp. And if all of that isn't enough, my hazel eyes are bright fever green. So you'll just have to put up with my miserable achy whining for the moment. There were a number of topics I wanted to cover today, but my inability to type a single word without a typo will limit my complaining somewhat.I must be succinct..lest I fall asleep at the keyboard.

Thankfully, the Madame Bachmann crazies are fading fast. I am particularly grateful for this. And will be equally grateful when Perry's star fades into the Gulf of Mexico which it, too, seems to be doing. There needs to be an elevation of the political debate in this country and it needs to happen real soon. The Wall Street demonstrations are not too far off from Tahrir Square in vehemence. I would recommend everyone take a look at this: We Are The 99 Percent. You don't have to agree with it, you don't have to support it, but you do have to read it. Some are stories of self-defeating failure and bad choices, others are just testaments to doing everything right and still not being able to afford the basics. This is a harbinger of anger to come.

Uh oh. I fell asleep at the keyboard. Seriously. I just nodded off. 

Beddy-bye time. I can finish this in the morning...when I get up for work at 4:30 a.m. Yeah. You read that right. It's a short night. Okay...enough. I feel terrible. I'm going to bed.

Good morning? It's 5:30. I'm showered and dressed and I still feel crummy, but not as crummy as yesterday. I'll be damned if I'm giving up 5 years of perfect attendance for a lousy cold. I'll just make sure I cough only on myself.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Occupy Wall Street. A few days prior to the rag tag army's arrival there was a different kind of protest on Wall Street. About 700 pilots marched to Wall Street to draw attention to their labor dispute. It was orderly to a point of precision. The placards were printed and very tidy. They did what they came to do, then dispersed. This was not one of them hippy rallies; these guys had a point to make and they made it in their usual professional manner.

Not to be overreaching here, but a corollary comes to mind. After a spate of sexual assaults in Brooklyn, cops have been telling women to "cover up." Actually, there have been a number of places in recent weeks where it would seem the modesty police are out in force. One of my favorite bloggers called it Saudi Arabia, NY 11215. Now, let's just say I am definitely not the fashion police, nor do I think the cops should be commenting on that. Besides, I usually don't care enough to comment on clothing in general, but...

Ah, the big butt.  A while back, in my Mall of America Weeble rant, I questioned the attractiveness of wearing clothing that outlined your fat rolls. And I'll admit I'm one of those dinosaurs who believes your clothing sends a message...which is why everyone who knows me knows I must've been a flower child in my former life for my raiment still manages to  convey an element of hippie-ness…or so my kids tell me.

So, the question morphs into, "are the pilots taken more seriously because they're all dressed in their little pilot suits?"  And subsequently, are the Brooklyn Bridge marchers dismissed more readily because they are less formally attired?

Our world is changing. Perceptions are changing. So let me throw out the question: is the idea that clothing sends a message outmoded? Are appearances nothing more than appearances?

And if you are of a mind, please throw in a comment on this one….especially if you’re one of my foreign readers.  I would love to hear what people have to say on this.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you don't like how you're being treated at the office, 
go check the mirror first. 
If that's not at least part of the problem, go get a good lawyer