Thursday, June 30, 2005

Advertising evil

Wouldn't you think a company like Best Western would focus their advertising dollars on adults who book travel? Nope, they're running commercials on Nickelodeon with some sort of promotional tie-in with a Nick cartoon. Here in my house is a 5-year-old who feels compelled to inform me, "You can stay there for 5 days," each time the ad is on—twice so far this morning, and it's only 8:30. Bloody hell!

Update: Thirty minutes later, it's on again. "Look, look, Mom, they have coffee. Look, a swimming pool. Look! Mommy, they call it Best Western." Devious, devious advertisers...

When did you stop swearing in front of the baby?

Loretta and I had a blogger meet-up at my friendly neighborhood IHOP today, complete with offpsring. Her little girls are adorable and a ton of fun—very open and outgoing babies, which everyone knows is the best kind. Ben was also a happy-go-lucky baby and toddler (when he wasn't being an absolute hellion) and is a cheerful kid still, so I'm partial to happy babies. Which is not to say that a colicky or shy baby doesn't have its finer points, but you know what I'm getting at. Here are two cool things about Loretta: She has a tie-dyed nursing bra, and she lets her kids eat straight from the table (no wussy sanitary placemats, no antiseptic wipedown).

Anyway, Loretta asked me something that is probably not addressed in the garden-variety parenting handbook: When do you have to stop swearing? Her girls are 12 months old, so poor Loretta probably only has a few more months of good "Fuck it!" and "Holy Mother of Christ!" and "Cocksucking shit!" to go, right? Ben had a speech delay, so Mr. Tangerine and I got a free pass on swearing for at least an extra year, which was handy. (I was so proud when he finally was able to utter, "Fucking shit!" like a pro. And then I had to cut way, way back on the foul mouth.) Given my atypical experience with swearing-in-front-of-the-kid, would those of you who have kids beyond the baby stage share your experience? I'm sure Loretta would appreciate being able to swear just as long as possible, so let's be generous in our advice.

Isn't it lovely that blogs aren't subject to those fucking idiotic FCC obscenity regulations so we can swear like the bitches and assholes we are?

My recent spam

Francis Heaney over at Heaneyland (home of the "six things" cartoons) took umbrage at the spam subject line "effete Francis." That inspired me to mine my own bulk-mail folder to see if I had anything good. It's always fun to get something that promises to enlarge a body part I have not got, and I thought "Surprise her with a bigger Johnsons" was especially fresh. The capitalization and pluralization of "johnson" makes it sound almost like you'll get a whole family of phalluses.

I don't know why Charmaine sends such incomprehensible messages, like "You didnt answer solomon jew." Who is Solomon? Is she sure he's Jewish? Or is that his last name? You know, I went to college with a girl named Patty Jew. Maybe she knows Solomon.

Jonelle questions, "can you even get it up?" I'm glad she asked. The other week, I really had a hard time working my grandma's window shades. I couldn't get it back up without trying a few times.

I don't think I've met Brittney Yoder. I think that's often an Amish surname, and it would really sadden me to learn that even the Amish have fallen prey to the American tendency to misspell their children's names. Anyway, Brittney is writing me about "my wife bolshevism bacchus." Her wife sounds pretty wild! Bacchanalian and Bolshevik, all in one tasty package? Party hearty!

The confessional meghan hawkins wrote to say, "now I am a new man." She's hawkin' a "Male Enhancement formula." All I can say is, if it made meghan a new man, this must be one hell of a formula! Just imagine what it could to to a man. Maybe it could transform his johnson into Johnsons.

I have a hankering for cheese and crackers after Joni told me "Crackers and cheese gunther locksmith" and Monroe said "rotarian, Crackers and cheese." Sadly, the cheese I bought today was string cheese, and it doesn't crackerize well.

What's your favorite spam? (And don't say the reduced-sodium Spam.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

WTF: The GH Edition

Remember when I watched that Pamela Anderson sitcom, “Stacked,” so you didn’t have to? I have taken another hit for the team. This time, I read the July issue of Good Housekeeping, featuring 54-year-old Joan Lunden and her four toddlers and babies. I bought the magazine (a title from the genre I refer to as “married-lady magazines”) to basically find out WTF was the deal with Joan Lunden. Ah, but the magazine offers so much more…

I picked up the issue to pass the time while sitting with Ben in front of the TV (those Fisher-Price Little People videos offer nothing of interest to adults but the Aaron Neville theme song). I knew I was in for a treat right off the bat, on the letters-to-the-editor page. There was feedback on a recent article about a couple who lost a child to a dreadful genetic disease and opted for IVF with preimplantation screening to avoid a repeat of that tragedy. “Many readers wrote in, some concerned that the unhealthy embryos had been disposed of. ‘…I was…sad to learn that life had been destroyed to get the end result.’” Yep, that’s right. That reader would prefer that an embryo with a fatal genetic malady be transferred into a womb. WTF?

Another thing that caught my eye was the Venus Vibrance battery-powered razor, which appears to be a disposable razor crossed with a vibrator. WTF? If vibrator technology really facilitates a close shave, wouldn’t the folks at Gillette have introduced the vibrazor (I gotta trademark that!) concept in men’s razors first? (Ah. The Gillette website shows the “M3 Power Nitro” battery-powered razor for men—no mention of “vibration,” though. Guess vibrators aren’t manly.) Or are women supposed to shave their pits and their legs with this doohickey, and then flip it over to use the non-razor portion? Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen—you could totally cut your hands on the razor blades.

Looking for a T-shirt that’s dressy enough for the office? What could be more practical than the Piscotta tee? It’s made from 100% organic milk, freeze-dried and spun into a silken yarn. Hand-wash, line dry—like I said, practical! (And yes, I did say “organic milk,” and no, I’m not mixing this up with cheese.) WTF?

Then there was an ad for the Tide to Go instant stain remover pen. Somehow, you press it on the stained clothes you’re wearing and the stain disappears, but your flesh is not chemically burned—that seems to be the gist of it. It seems too easy to be a good idea, doesn’t it?

Moving on to the article, “Does your husband need training?”—you’re supposed to tear out the article and give it to your husband so he knows how to make shit up when you ask insecure questions like “Do you wish I still looked the way I did when we first met?” or “Do you think that woman’s attractive?” Yep, read the canned answers, then give the article to your husband so he can feed you the canned answers right on cue. That won’t piss the woman off, will it? Sheesh.

“What about Joan Lunden?” you ask. She has three grown daughters (aged 17, 22, and 25). Five years ago, she married a man 10 years her junior. She was closing in on 50 when she started fertility treatments. IVF failed—big surprise—so they moved on to surrogacy and donor eggs, plus her husband’s sperm. (No one will be surprised to hear that the article didn’t mention the word “egg” or “donor” anywhere. These articles seldom do.) The surrogate got pregnant with twins, and then did it again 21 months later. Now, Lunden, age 54, reports, she is just so darn full of energy and enjoying parenting again. (Of course, having two nannies and a baby nurse on staff helps prevent exhaustion.)

Lunden argues that it’s unfair to criticize older women for having babies, given that older men father children all the time without incurring judgmental reactions. She answers the “Isn’t it selfish to have more babies” issue by saying, “having children is a lot of work. It involves tremendous amounts of time and emotion to create a kind, even-keeled, educated, spirited, happy person to send out there into the world. I mean, this is our gift to the future.” Not that I want to be hurling mommy drive-by judgments at another woman, but I don’t know if I buy this rationalization. Lunden had already sent three people “to the future”; if she felt the need to nurture more kids, why not adopt or take care of foster children? I just can’t even imagine trying IVF at age 49 or 50. If Lunden’s babies and tots are lucky, she’ll live until they’re about 40; there’s certainly a reasonable chance that she’ll die or be incapacitated long before that.

What do you think—Joan Lunden: Hero Mom? or Joan Lunden: Selfish Narcissist?

I can’t finish this magazine right now. It takes too much out of me. I haven’t even gotten to “Burning Questions for Michael Bolton” yet. (I am not making this up.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

This is why I live here

Most of my relatives live in the south and southwest suburbs of Chicago, where I grew up. Mr. Tangerine and I have lived on the North Side for 15 years. Those who live out yonder (30 to 40 miles from me) find my location and the lack of ample parking to be most inconvenient; the city driving, harrowing; the city air, dirty and noisy. "Why don't you move out here?" they ask. "You know, in a few years, you'll have to move to the suburbs so Ben can have playmates in the neighborhood."

I honestly find suburban driving to be more stressful than city driving (with the exception of driving in the Loop—I haven't honed those skills yet). The city may seem big and anonymous, but there are familiar and friendly faces here. I don't hanker for a big yard that requires mowing and landscaping. I love the proximity to Lake Michigan and its beauty, not to mention the lake's moderating effect on the local climate (warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer—almost 20 degrees cooler today, in fact). I like the easy access to public transportation (Ben loves the bus and the El). It's great to have so many museums and parks nearby.

But what I value most about the North Side is its diversity—the kind of diversity that suburbs exclude almost by design. There are rich people and poor people. Black, white, Latino, Asian, and Native American. Straight, gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered. Yuppies and goths. Old people and babies. Nerds and hipsters. Immigrants from all corners of the globe (well, not counting Antarctica), speaking dozens of languages. Families, childless couples, and singles. Hard-bodied jocks, fat people, skinny people. The able-bodied and people with all sorts of disabilities. Atheists, Christians, Muslims, and Hasidic Jews. I want Ben to grow up understanding that we are all one human race, that we can all be neighbors. In this part of Chicago, I think it will come naturally to him.

This afternoon, we walked down to Pride Fest (the street fair kicking off tomorrow's parade). There were shirtless men with nipple rings, buxom transsexuals, drag queens, same-sex couples holding hands or embracing, very dykish-looking lesbians (one sporting a t-shirt that read "Yes, I am in the right bathroom"), RuPaul live on stage (back after a five-year hiatus from fame), people of all races—the works. What one person caught Ben's eye and caused him to exclaim? A clown, clad in a red and white get-up with matching face paint and a wig. How many five-year-old kids in the 'burbs wouldn't think twice about all the rest of the folks at Pride Fest?

Here in the city, we're home.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The thrill of business attire

When we were at the Hilton Head TJ Maxx a few weeks ago, I opted not to buy Ben a cheap-ass dressy outfit—pants, dress shirt, vest, necktie, all for $10—even though he begged for it. First of all, when would he ever wear such a thing? And second, I don't wish to encourage him to whine and cry to get merchandise he wants. He got over the disappointment, but boy, did he cry and cry at TJ Maxx.

This week, because I do tend to spoil Ben, when he asked about "a suit," I checked online and found an $11 shirt-and-tie combo. He selected the white shirt/navy tie combo because, apparently, his fashion adventurousness disappears completely in the menswear world. (Not much in the way of sparkles, purple, or vivid colors to choose from.) The shirt and tie arrived today, packaged just like a grown-up dress shirt but without the straight pins. When we finally extricated the garment from the packaging, cardboard and plastic supports, and clips (why??) and got Ben buttoned into the shirt and velcroed into the tie (yes, it has a velcro closure in the back)—oh! So adorable! He wore it with his shorts and played for a half hour, squatting on the floor amid his toy cars just like any grown man wearing a shirt and tie.

Now that's he's supposed to be going to bed, he came out and asked if he could show his "suit" to Daddy. He's so proud of his "suit."

His name is Ben
He is so cute
He likes formalwear
Check out his suit
Roll call!

I just may dress him in that for my cousin's wedding in a month. A velcro tie is the height of cheesiness, yes, but so precious! And truthfully, I think it's just a matter of time before men's ties go the velcro route. Guy gets to the end of a long day, wants to loosen his tie, and—scrrrrrrtch—he adjusts the velcro strap.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Look, I killed it

I didn't post for a week, and I stunned you all into silence. Comments? Hello?? Is anyone out there?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Latest Book Meme

Goodness, it’s been a while. I just finished a freelance gig that occupied the last week, so I’m back. A couple weeks ago, Charlie tossed me the meme frisbee, and I’m finally posting it:

Number Of Books I Own: I tried counting, but I may be off by a hundred. Probably around 600 books, 40% of them kids’ books. (Can someone do an intervention? Stop me before I buy books again! I am powerless to resist the siren song of the bookstore.) My living room bookshelves are 7 feet tall and 9 feet wide, and they’re pretty new so I don’t have stacks of books doubled up in front of every row yet. I forgot to count the reference books in my credenza, the other reference books hiding on that shelf in the dining room, the cookbooks in the kitchen, and the naughty books in the nightstand. Let’s round it up to 700 books.

Last Book I Bought: I bought three books from sex-toy and book purveyor Flea: a nonfiction book/memoir by Paula Kamen, All In My Head: An Epic Quest to Cure an Unrelenting, Totally Unreasonable, and Only Slightly Enlightening Headache; Brian K. Vaughan’s comic compilation, Y: The Last Man Vol. 5: Ring of Truth (due out next month); and Paul Showers’ kiddie science book, What Happens to a Hamburger?. Kamen has had a headache, quite literally, for a decade—the book is about headache science, her search for relief, and learning to accept chronic pain. Y: The Last Man is a comic book series in which some medical oddity has killed every man on earth—except for our hero and his pet monkey. There are gangs of modern-day Amazons! I’ve enjoyed Volumes 1 to 4. The last book is for Ben, since he was intrigued when I explained the basics of food in, down the tubes, out the tubes as poop. (A proud moment in parenting: impressing my child with my knowledge of the fabulous and amazing.) My prior bookstore purchase was a stack of crossword books—it ain’t just athletes who are into training, you know.

Last Book I Read: There are a number of books I’ve waded into but haven’t managed to finish. It’s possible the last one I finished was Terry Gross’s collection of interviews from her public radio show, “Fresh Air,” All I Did Was Ask—and I read that last winter.

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

1. James Joyce’s Ulysses: In college, I was reluctant to speak up in class because I hadn’t fully outgrown my shyness. (It’s true! And I’m such a loudmouth now.) We read Ulysses in my senior seminar in English (technically, I haven’t read the whole thing—the reading was assigned chapter by chapter, and there were times when I just hadn’t read a chapter but had to move on to catch up; and no, I’m not ashamed, and yes, I plan to reread the whole book someday). In one chapter, Joyce’s language went nuts—a bravura assemblage of many different varieties of language all packed into a single chapter. And I had an idea! An idea I shared with the class! That the prof liked and my friend said was brilliant! It was a highlight of my academic career, seriously. I suggested that Joyce may have felt like the book had gotten away from him, and he was wresting control back from his characters by showing his mastery of the language in that chapter.

2. Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On: This was one of my earlier ventures into reading nonfiction about germs (in this case, HIV) and the fascinating ways in which epidemiologists ply their trade. I’ve been hooked ever since.

3. Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible: Though I may have been drawn in more by Kingsolver’s romantic and feminist Animal Dreams, Poisonwood fed my love for wordplay. The book is narrated in turns by various members of a family. My favorite chapters were young Adah’s; her name was almost a palindrome and Kingsolver toyed with language in her chapters.

Because I’ve been rambling and can’t think of two more, I’ll stop with three books.

Now, let me throw down the gauntlet and ask a few other people to share their responses: Feral Mom, Mona, and Ms. AngelPants. Let's hear it, ladies!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cartoons, anyone?

There's this guy named Francis Heaney who writes (the blog Heaneyland! and a recent book), creates crossword puzzles, and draws hilarious cartoons called "Six things." The cartoons are posted right smack dab in the middle of his blog every day or three, and each has six drawings on a single theme. For example, the kid song "This Old Man" doesn't cover all the numbers. On June 13, Heaney offered up six new verses, including "he played pi, he played knick-knack on my eye," with a sketch of a guy exclaiming, "hey, that was my EYE, you fucking idiot." June 14 features "strategies for coping with life if you were created by a mad scientist. Panel four: "if you destroy everything and kill everyone, who will be left to love you?" Indeed. Indeed.

Go check out the cartoon archives. If you like the dry weirdness and doodly drawing style of Roz Chast, you'll enjoy six things.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jon Carroll is a smart man

Someone passed along a link to Jon Carroll's column in the San Francisco Chronicle, pointing out that the Democrats need to be more brash than Mr. Rogers and spread the word, loudly, about various Bush administration malfeasances. I haven't read Carroll before (can't say I've heard of him, for that matter), but he's damn funny.

Fox News? Less than 1% of the population watches Fox News in prime time. However much noise it makes and however much room it takes up in the brains of media people, Fox is a very small muffin in a very large bakery—a small, wizened, bitter muffin. Ignore it; everyone else does, writes Carroll. (I like my muffins moist and sweet, personally.)

His closing paragraph: Most Americans are neither ultraconservative nor superrich, and they are interested in hearing the truth. The Democrats should be interested in telling the truth, and telling it in a strong and convincing manner. They cannot flinch when the White House does one of its "gay marriage booga booga" dances. Be not afraid, Democrats. This is not an occasion in which the meek will inherit the earth. Speak for the people, because the people need you to end the madness.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Before and after

A good friend of mine mentioned realizing as a teen that she looked more like the "before" picture in a teen magazine's "before and after" feature. Which raises an interesting question for all of us: Do you consider yourself a "before" picture, an "after," or a "before" who must be transformed into an "after" prior to leaving the house? Please share your answer in the comments.

I am relatively unconcerned with the standards of beauty as put forth by fashion magazines. Objectively, one would call me a "before," as I wear precious little makeup. My hairstyling regimen consists of blow-drying my bangs and waving the blow dryer around the rest of my hair (no mousse, no gel, no Transforming Paste—though Mr. Tangerine loves his Transforming Paste). I often don't brush my hair again for most of the day. I see myself in the mirror, but I don't often really look with any degree of critical attention. (Is that enlightened self-acceptance or slovenliness?) But since I'm content with the results of my minimal efforts, I rather feel like an "after." It's telling: before a photo shoot for a major newspaper, the only extra grooming I did was trying to cover up some zits, using the lightly tinted moisturizer with sunscreen instead of the plain, and topping the moisturizer with some green powder to counteract my standard redness. I dampened my hair and did another round of blow-drying, and I added a touch of lipstick. (My poor mother-in-law: ever hopeful, she asked, "Did you fix your hair for the picture?" Yep, same blow-drying as ever! No products, no hairspray, no nothing.)

So, ladies and gentlemen, are you "befores" or "afters"?

Weird Dream #3

I dreamed I went to the grocery store near closing time to pick up a few things. One item I needed to look at was a magazine containing an erotic story by Mona. I needed to find a quiet spot in the store to read Mona's piece. I was crouching in the magazine section, but too many people were around so I realized I'd just have to buy the magazine.

I went to the self-checkout counter, which was about as social as sitting at the counter in a diner. I told a guy on one side of me that I'd enjoyed his crossword puzzles in the Sun; he was bashful and awkward. I proceeded to scan my grocery items. A plastic tub of soup that looked like salsa (but was not known to be gazpacho) had a $3.20 price tag, but it rang up as $9.95. I had to summon the manager on duty to issue my refund. There was a little to-do about it, during which the cute guy on the other side of me offered to taste the soup to see if it was any good. "Ptooey! This is bad!" he exclaimed. The soup had indeed gone bad. Ominously, the guy told me that Jay Somebody, who knew me from the American crossword tournament, had been seen lurking over in the magazine section, no doubt planting the soup there.

Seeing that the soup had turned, the store manager forked over a $16 refund, explaining "If the food could kill you, we give you a double refund." [Yes, I know the math doesn't work.] I peeled off six singles and gave them to the chivalrous young man who had tasted my soup, as a reward for his taking one for the team.

I left the store and began walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood or rowhouses. A young couple was shouting at one house, and I moved on. Eventually I encountered a large group walking down the sidewalk. My sister's young niece was there, even though it was past midnight, as was my cousin Linda. Most of the group consisted of men who like crosswords, about eight of them in a roving pack. Determined to infiltrate the group and figure out which one had tried to poison me with tainted* soup, I tagged along. We all went to a small apartment belonging to one of the crossword guys; presumably they were thrilled to have a couple women there. Linda wanted to leave, owing to the lateness of the hour; I promised we'd leave in 10 minutes, as soon as I was able to finish my sleuthing.

And then I woke up. What does it all mean?

*I have loved the word "taint" ever since seeing that "Mr. Show" episode 8 or 10 years ago, in which David Cross was a porn model posing for Taint magazine (the taint being that area that "taint your balls and taint your asshole"). His legs-in-the-air posing was classic. Mr. Tangerine and I laughed so hard, we cried. For two days. Sadly, when I bought the first DVD containing seasons 1 and 2, I found it did not include that episode.

Friday, June 10, 2005

David Sedaris! And a crossword!

The New Yorker that's currently online (the June 13 issue) has a hilarious David Sedaris piece, "Turbulence," concerning air travel and the Saturday NYT crossword. I won't step on the punchlines—read it for yourself. Hurry, before it disappears into the netherworld! (I always get bitten when I read something in my copy of the New Yorker and want to send the link to someone. By the time I look for it online, 'tis gone.)

Friday is Krugman Spaghetti Day

(Or should that be "Prince Krugman Day"?)

Paul Krugman's column today is about the sacrifice of the middle class and working class at the altar of the wealthy. Did you know that between World War II and 1973, average family incomes (adjusted for inflation) doubled? And between 1973 and 2003, incomes also doubled—for the 1% of families, anyway. Median family income rose just 22% during that period, and much of the increase is attributed to women joining the work force rather than rising salaries. Before we return to the days of rich robber barons and poor everyone else, Krugman says, we need to shake things up and expose what the current administration's policies are doing to working families.

Yeah, I could fill this post with quotes from the column, but wouldn't you rather read the whole thing yourself? I knew you would.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

When parents kill: moms vs. dads

There's an interesting article in the Trib today about the judicial outcomes in cases where a parent killed his or her own child. Women tend to be sentenced to mental hospitalization, whereas the men are sent to jail or death row. The methods used tend to vary, with women more likely to go the unbloody route of drowning, poisoning, or smothering, while men are more apt to stab, shoot, or beat. Women are more often perceived, like Andrea Yates, as having a mental illness. Men are more likely to be viewed as just plain evil; case in point, Jerry Hobbs.

There's more to the discussion than these points, and it's an interesting read.

Edited to change "Paula" to "Andrea." (Thanks, Nut!) Paula Yates was married to Bob Geldof, and their kids had names like Fifi Trixibelle. Later, she hooked up with INXS's Michael Hutchence, and they had a kid named Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily. Then Hutchence committed suicide. In 2000, Paula was found dead, presumably a result of drugs. Andrea Yates, of course, is the Texas woman who drowned her five children. The name Paula Yates is rather unfamiliar to me, so I have no idea why I typed it instead of Andrea Yates. D'oh!

The latest opportunism from the Christian Wrong

According to an AP article, a nurse who worked at Eastern Illinois University filed a lawsuit because EIU and its nursing director "violated" her freedom of religion (among other things) when they didn't give her a promotion. During an interview for the promotion, Andrea Nead said she was morally opposed to dispensing emergency contraception; that ended the interview quickly, she claims, and the job went to another candidate. (EIU spokeswoman Vicki Woodard said, "I can say the reason Andrea Nead was not hired was unrelated to dispensing the morning-after pill.")

Nead's attorney works for a group, the American Center for Law and Justice, that was founded by Pat Robertson. (What a surprise!) Her lawsuit claims that EIU violated her right to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and equal protection, as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.

Let's examine these claims. Freedom of religion? Seems to me she's free to have her religious beliefs, unimpeded by EIU. But if she's not willing to fulfill the duties of the job, then it's incumbent on her not to seek a job that she objects to. There are plenty of nursing jobs that don't involve EC; if she loves taking care of college kids, then perhaps she ought to find a college that isn't an affront to her particular moral beliefs and apply there. Freedom of expression? Nobody said she couldn't express herself. Discrimination? There are an awful lot of reasons one person gets hired for a job while umpteen other applicants don't. Perhaps the nursing director's interview notes for Nead and the individual who was hired tell the story. I've interviewed dozens of job applicants, and most of them present many compelling reasons not to be hired. They show up late, they don't make eye contact, they rant about old jobs, they have a wishy-washy handshake, they have no insightful questions or answers, their salary expectations are out of line with the job, their qualifications just aren't as good as someone else's, or someone else just "clicked" better. If one applicant really lights up the room and shows tremendous potential and interest, she's far more likely to land the job than someone who mopes through the interview. We don't know why EIU opted to hire someone other than Nead, but EIU says it had nothing to do with her religious beliefs.

My advice? If you object to EC, then don't take the pills. And don't try to get a job that involves dispensing EC. All those "pharmacists for life," and now this nurse—come on, now! It's not as if nurses and pharmacists face such tight job markets that they can't find work. That nursing shortage you heard about 10 or 15 years ago? It's still there. Nead's lawsuit is just another case of right-wing conservative-Christian opportunism.

Cutie pie

Ben is such a sweet and funny kid. I gave him a kiss, and he asked for an eskimo kiss, which he pronounces like it's eskaMOKus. Then he began inventing new displays of affection: the hand-kimo kiss, the finger-mo kiss, the pinkie-eskimo kiss, and the thumb-eskimo kiss.

I await the invention of the toe-kimo kiss.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Two things

First, Mr. Tangerine recently taught Ben how to produce an armpit fart. The child is in a state of sheer bliss when he's trying, arm pumping up and down vigorously, to make ungodly sounds emerge from his armpit. Yes, it is the death of innocence. Sigh...

Second, a very cool girl I know has just started her own blog called Ms. AngelPants. She's off to a promising start with her very first post. Check it out!

Monday, June 06, 2005

La di dah di d—oh, excuse me, do I have a blog?

My good friend K. reminded me last night that I have been back from vacation for days and haven't posted a thing yet. So here I am.

Vacation was relaxing, as all vacations should be. It's just the packing and getting out of the house and through the airport before vacation that kill me. I don't remember vacation departures being particularly stressful for my dad, but my mom assures me he was a nightmare. (He also tacked on some nervous diarrhea before vacations.) Genetics is destiny, as I was telling Mr. Tangerine during the cab ride to O'Hare. I can't help it if I'm a raving bitch during these situations. Hell, there's probably a proud tradition going back centuries. You don't think my dad's ancestors who came to the United States were in pissy moods before they got on that ship? Puh-lease. (And yes, I am equating a five-day vacation with leaving all you know behind.)

Young Ben had plenty of nature experiences at the beach. A real (dead) sponge looks nothing like SpongeBob! And real (dead) jellyfish are not pastel pink. Crabs, hermit crabs, conch-type mollusks, clams, they were all out there. Ben was also excited to find a tiny dead fish in a tidal pool—"Mom! Dad! Lookit! Lookit what I found!" We didn't go very deep into the Atlantic waters, not after Mr. Tangerine saw the sign that said "No shark fishing." His dad makes a hobby of worrying, and genetics is destiny—Mr. Tangerine's worrying is picking up steam now that's he's a father. But really, the sign didn't say "Look out or you'll get eaten by a shark," it said "Leave those poor sharks alone" (at least that's how I read the prohibition).

Ben behaved beautifully at a couple of restaurant dinners without any restorative nap beforehand. He completely charmed a table of older Filipino couples (my in-laws' friends and their friends). Apparently, any Filipino woman over the age of 65 is mandated by law to tell Ben, "You're El Guapo. Guapo means handsome." Garden-variety Americans will say he's a good-looking kid, but leave it to the aging Filipinas to pull out the "El Guapo" business. (Who remembers the show "Soap," when Jessica Tate was kidnapped by a Latino revolutionary nicknamed El Guapo? I may be fuzzy on the plot specifics, but I know my uses of "El Guapo.")

Also during vacation, I decided to start shaving (yes, shaving). So far, Mr. Tangerine has not taken advantage of the new look. I tendered offers on vacation, but dammit, he kept watching TV with his dad (and who wants romance with someone who just watched a Hannibal Lecter movie?) or falling asleep early. We're really far too lackadaisical about these things. It doesn't help that Ben finds his way to our bed almost every night. (And no, the bedroom doors don't lock.)

Oh, and that update to the last post where I whined about a cold weather forecast for vacation? I must've been smoking the crack pipe and reading a Chicago weather forecast or something. The Hilton Head forecast was 80s with some rain. And that's what we got—plenty of low 80s, craploads of rain. But not enough to ruin vacation or anything.

I had thought about completely abandoning any attempts at crossword puzzle construction, but then I had a brilliant idea (or at least a pretty good idea) for a theme, and slogged through the process with a little help from another constructor. Now I'm at the stage where procrastination is what's slowing everything down. Ha! It's just like the rest of my life. I have some e-mail correspondence going with several of my favorite constructors, which is awesome. It's like being a TV writer in the trenches with no experience, and suddenly you have people like Larry David showing you the ropes and treating you like a worthy peer. I call 'em my crossword boyfriends.

Speaking of my boyfriends, Barack Obama co-wrote a piece in the New York Times about avian flu. He must be my soulmate because he, too, takes an interest in key issues in viral epidemiology. I'm glad he and Richard Lugar are pushing the issue to the forefront. And that 1918 flu pandemic that killed tens of millions of people? I have a personal interest in that because my grandma's sister died in that pandemic. She was about 5, I think, and she was the healthy, strong kid in the family. Grandma was the sickly one, and here she is, still going strong (relatively speaking) a few weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. The events of 1918 remain deeply troubling to modern medicine because we still don't know why the flu was so deadly, why it spread so fast, and why it targeted the young and healthy while sparing the old, very young, and sickly. Since we know so little about what made it so terrible, we're ill-equipped to prevent another pandemic of its kind. So your job is to tell your Senators and Congresspeople to get in line with Obama and Lugar and push for funding for control and prevention efforts. (If only would adopt this issue and make it so easy to contact people in D.C., eh?)

Let's see...vacation, mollusks, El Guapo, shaving, crosswords, Obama...what have I left out? Not that you're interested, but I also bought myself some fancy-ass brassieres recently (did you know brassieres were patented in 1913? And by a woman, who was probably sick to death of fussy corsets? These things I learn from crosswords and my crossword boyfriends). Bitch Ph.D. should be a paid spokesmodel for Wacoal bras, because I would never have wandered into the Wacoal department if it weren't for her recommendation. The prices range from roughly $45 to $60 for most of their bras (and no, I don't know where the Wacoal name comes from), but dammit, aren't my boobs worth it? I say yes. The bras fit well, they look great, and I totally needed a new bra wardrobe after Oprah told everyone they're wearing the wrong bra size. I measured myself using the instructions I found online and, for a change, didn't choose to overrule the numbers and insist I'm the same size I've been wearing. I've been wearing one band size too big and two cup sizes too small, according to the measurements. And what do you know? The Wacoal bras in the new size happen to fit great. So ladies, get out your measuring tape and see if you, too, have been punishing your boobs by inflicting the wrong bra size on them.

Okay, that's it for this morning. Nice to be back!