Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The GOP's nightmare

We attended the variety event of the season this morning: The third grade's multimedia spectacular, "Goin' Green." Ben's part was to portray a very knowledgeable guy in a PSA about carbon footprints. They filmed the PSA yesterday and showed it on the big screen this morning. Mr. Tangerine and I couldn't have been more proud—not only did Ben have more lines than the other three kids combined, but he memorized them all, spoke clearly, and didn't fidget at all during the taping. He's a star, baby.

The Republican nightmare part is the student population and their families. If everyone in the auditorium had gone to the Republican National Convention, it probably would have multiplied the non-white representation there by a factor of 100. Some of the girls and their moms wear traditional Muslim head coverings, and nobody gives anybody any guff about that. Every single kid either knows families who immigrated from other countries or is in such a family. And every single family lives in a big city. Nobody's holed up in a small town, hiding from the future or from diversity. The kids mix well, and know how to get along with people of all colors and backgrounds.

In other words, these kids are the antithesis of the image the Republican party put forth this year. They are the future of America.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hey, Chicagoans! (Or anyone else.)

If you can spare a little money this time of year, click over to the Chicago Sun-Times Season of Sharing and request some "Dear Santa" letters.

Kids in the Chicago Public Schools whose student population is almost all low-income write "Dear Santa" letters to request a present. Season of Sharing sends these letters out to volunteers, who giggle at how impossibly sweet the letters are, shop for the desired loot, wrap up and label the gifts, and send them to the kid's school. Before winter break, each class will have a party and Santa or an elf will deliver a heap of gifts, one for every kid in the class.

Check your local post office, too. Oftentimes the post office will have a bin of "Dear Santa" letters that kids or families have mailed to the North Pole. (Sometimes the mail is diverted, I guess. Surely the blame lies with an unreceptive North Pole postal facility.) Volunteers can select a letter or three and work on fulfilling those requests to Santa.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Roger Ebert Fan Club

I've been a member of the imaginary Roger Ebert Fan Club since I was a kid reading his reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times. You've probably heard about the salivary gland cancer that robbed him of his voice and his face—but his ability to write and to love movies remains unchanged. Actually, that's not quite true. He recently wrote about how much easier the writing comes to him now, how he's merely transcribing the words that the muse has composed inside his head. (Must reading for any writer.)

Earlier this year, a Sun-Times exec asked Roger to start writing a blog, and that blog kicks ass. I added it to my RSS feed so I never miss a post. The newest one is about looking like the Phantom of the Opera (non-handsome edition) and having been fat. Deep, introspective stuff combined with humor.

He wrote so convincingly about the versatility of rice cookers that I went ahead and bought one. Now what the hell am I supposed to do with it? I should print out Ebert's post and the comments and use that as a cookbook.

Here, see for yourself. Skim through the list of past posts and explore the topics that sound inviting. Hey, a lot of the time, he even writes about movies. (This is in addition to his regular movie review site.)

There's a reason that Ebert is the only movie critic to have won a Pulitzer for his writing, you know.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Well, I just got the rug pulled out from under me an hour ago, and a juicy job offer vanished into nothingness. I hadn't told too many people, so it wasn't hard to e-mail almost all of them with the disappointing news. So far, everyone has used a swear word in their reply e-mails. These are my peeps! So goddamned supportive. I love my peeps.

And then a couple minutes ago, FedEx delivered the new rug for my living room. It's like instant retail therapy, and with something super-cushy and thick and soft. This rug's so thick, we could lose Legos in the shag.

I think the sad rug still wins out over the shaggy rug, at least for this weekend.

Friday, November 14, 2008


All righty, I'm only going to say this once:

Bemused ≠ amused.

Bemuse means this:
1. To cause to be bewildered; confuse. See synonyms at daze.
2. To cause to be engrossed in thought.

See? It doesn't mean "To find things funny or droll." It rhymes with "confuse and it also means confuse? This should be so easy to remember. Maybe this will help: A Spanish translation of the verb is causar estupefacción . If you are bemused by something, it has stupefied you, not made you smile.

I've encountered several different people on the internet in the past week or so who have misused bemused, and it took every ounce of cool I have to stop my inner pedant from leaving them comments solely to correct their usage. Don't bemuse your readers or listeners by using bemused wrong, okay?> Thanks.

(Of course, 50 years from now, "to amuse" will surely find its way into the dictionary definitions of bemuse, just because so many people are using it that way. Sigh.)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Daily "Moved to Tears" Moment™

I don't know about you, but ever since Tuesday, I have been having a Daily "Moved to Tears" Moment™. Usually several such moments, in fact.

Just now, it was spurred by Judith Warner's latest NYT post. Colin Powell being puffy-faced and moved. A beautiful photo of a little girl with her sobbing mother in a Harlem church, which Warner said looked like the future reaching out to heal the past.

Other days, it's been various photos of the Grant Park rally or of Americans crying tears of joy and relief. Heck, even billionaire Oprah Winfrey was overcome to the point that she cried on a stranger's shoulder. Jesse Jackson atoned for his ill-advised remarks this summer with his tears. And thousands of people who weren't famous, people of all races and backgrounds, people around the world, have experienced such joy.

On Election Day, there were tales of people voting with their parents or grandparents in mind—forebears who lived through the Jim Crow era and could scarcely have believed their descendants would be voting a black man into the highest office in the land. People who had never registered to vote before because they didn't think their vote mattered, and now they know it does.

It's seeing children of all colors and knowing that their America is not our America. Their America is the place where, duh, of course we can have a president who's not white. It's children aspiring to make history in their own way, dreaming of becoming the first Asian-American president or the second black president or the first woman president or the first Latina/Latino president or the first Jewish president. The possibilities seem endless in a way they never did before.

My Daily "Moved to Tears" Moment™ didn't happen until after lunch today. I suppose soon enough I'll make it to the end of the day without crying, but in the meantime, I rather like the daily cryfest. So hey! Let's keep it going:

What's moved you the most?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Here's the thing about Prop 8 and other anti-gay discrimination

The ever-righteous ding has laid down the law over at Bitch Ph.D. today. Her post is called "Party Over: A Primer on Equality and Prop 8 - From a Brown Straight Girl!"

Some in the media and the blogosphere have laid the blame for Prop 8 passing squarely at the feet of black or Latino voters, especially the churchgoers among them. Au contraire, says ding:
Let's cut to the chase: it was straight people who tanked equal rights for gays in California.
Ding doesn't care what your objection to same-sex marriage derives from. It's a matter of that cornerstone of America, equal rights:
Go read the full post. It's a good one.


There's a rally in Chicago tomorrow, a rally against Prop 8 and the other anti-LGBT measures that voters passed this week in Florida, Arkansas, and Arizona:

5:30 TO 7:30 P.M.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

When the insurance people can't talk

I called my health insurance company to check on some benefits, and I had to keep asking the representative to repeat herself because her voice was so hoarse. At the end of the call, I said, "I hope your cold gets better."

She replied, "I don't have a cold. I was just up late yelling and talking last night."

How awesome is that? The customer service rep can hardly talk because she was whooping and exulting so much for Obama. She sounded incredibly happy (if raspy).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes He Can

Yesterday evening, Ben said, "I want to be the president." (He's got another 27 years before he's old enough to be eligible, of course.)

I replied, "Hey, you could be the country's first Asian president."

He thought that would be pretty cool. "I could be in history!"

He could also be the country's second biracial president.

He could also fail to make any sort of history, because in the next 27 years, who knows? Maybe we'll have our first Asian-American president before Ben's ready. Or another mixed-race one, or another African-American, or a woman, or a Latino/a. Maybe my kid will be yet another in a string of leaders who represent the full diversity of this great land of ours.

If Obama wins today, suddenly the field is wide open for every child in America to aspire to amazing things.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Snapshots from Halloween

At one huge new house in a city neighborhood full of old houses, it took a while for anyone to come to the door. Finally, a middle-aged couple opened the door. He looked like an attorney, in a crisp gray suit. She wore a white apron over her clothes. They gave the kids their candy, and when the kids headed towards the next house, the distinguished gentleman turned away from the doorway—revealing that the back of his suit was cut out and there was sort of a fishnet-over-bra look to his back and bum. My, my!


Ben needed some protein on the way home after hours of trick-or-treating, so we headed to McDonald's. We placed our order, but then it took forever for the drive-thru line to move forward. We figured a slew of Halloween revelers on foot had packed the restaurant and slowed service to a crawl. And then—a guy sort of dressed like Ronald McDonald whizzed towards our car. Just a natural redhead, no orange 'fro. Big red shoes, red and yellow outfit? I think there were roller skates beneath the shoes, or maybe they sell Heely shoes for grown-ups. So anyway, faux Ronald McDonald comes whooshing towards us, hand outstretched, offering...a hamburger. Just the thing for a long wait at the drive-thru!

Then the line moves forward and we reach the payment window. No, that guy doesn't work for McDonald's. He just came in and ordered 40 hamburgers, which accounted for the long wait.

$58 worth of burgers to hand out? That's commitment.


There's this one block that's closed to car traffic on Halloween. There's a plywood castle maze in the middle of the street for the kids to run through. Most of the houses are decorated for Halloween (not like my block). One house went all out—candy for the kids and a keg of beer for the adults. I could get used to that, man.