Saturday, December 12, 2009

Some Xmas Confusion

So we were sitting around, watching television, and Julian began singing some of the songs from the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. I got up to get something from the other room and thought I heard something strange.

"Julian," I say, as I return, "Did you just sing 'God has seen a reckless child'?"

"Yes," He says, "Those are the words."

I did attempt to set him straight, but it isn't as if this lyric couldn't fit in with the general theme of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! and, in truth, it is a lot easier for a five year old to understand an all seeing eye in the sky keeping tabs on bad behavior than the concept that because it is Christmas, an almighty deity and those who sin regularly will hold hands and sing carols with one another. I mean, what is the whole point of being nice all year if, at the final hour, everyone gets a reprieve? How is that fair? Bartender, I would like to order a round of sin for the room, don't bother putting it on my tab.

Speaking of reckless children and remaining on the nice list for a few more weeks...

A couple of mornings later, we were running late and Julian was playing with a train car when he should have been putting on his shoes. I pointed out that he was being naughty.

"Santa is very forgiving," he says to me, pityingly, as if I am unaware of the ways of Santa.

"Well, Santa checks in with me before he delivers the gift," I tell him.


"Before Christmas."

"Well, I am going to send in my letter to him before you have a chance to tell him anything," Julian replies, clearly believing he has outsmarted me.

"It doesn't work that way. Santa checks in with mommies before he makes the deliveries. He will talk to me after he gets your letter."

He gets quiet for a little bit, and then he says, in a voice filled both with innocent faith that the world works the way in which it is supposed to and pity that I would be so foolish as to think otherwise, "Santa would never put me on the naughty list."

Trump card played, he put on his shoes and finished getting ready. Of course we were late for school, but it probably doesn't matter. After all, one can infer from Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!, reckless children abound and their antics do not go unnoticed, but come Christmas, Santa will forgive and forget everything.

Friday, December 04, 2009

National Cookie Day

Cookie Monster obviously felt that waiting until the end of the month for cookies was unacceptable, so he proclaimed December 4, National Cookie Day. Further proof that Monstership has its privileges.

I think this is a minor holiday that deserves wider observance, don't you?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bhopal Anniversary

There are some things which stick in your memory, tragedies which one heard about during childhood which haunt one into adulthood.

It has been twenty-five years since the Bhopal disaster. The Boston Globe has a great collection of photos from Bhopal. Worldview focused on the anniversary yesterday. If you don't know what I am talking about, you owe it to yourself to learn about it. That you might not know what I am talking about is astounding to me.

Just thinking about it makes me sad and angry. Chemicals from the accident are still leaking into the ground, poisoning the water and we have allowed Dow Chemical to avoid cleaning up the site. The coverage of the anniversary has been scant and hasn't had a negative effect on the company's stock price, but a 2004 hoax in which one of the Yes Men pretended to be a Dow executive who claimed responsibility for cleaning up the site did result in a drop. I think this shows our collective lack of regard for people in other countries, especially people in the third world. The developed world's attitude seems to be that getting our stuff cheap and making a profit is more important than human lives.

Amnesty International's website asks us to write to India's Prime Minister and Dow Chemical. It will take you less than a quarter of an hour to do what you can to end this human rights travesty which has been going on for a quarter of a century.

Missing is in the Eye of the Beholder

Apologies in advance if this post comes across as offensive, insensitive, blunt, cruel, or clueless.

The other night I watched this show on BBCAmerica, Britain's Missing Top Model. It's a reality show which follows a group of women competing to win a a photo shoot with a famous photographer (someone most of us have never heard of--it isn't with someone like Richard Avedon or Stephen Meisel), a spread in a fashion magazine (one of the second tier ones--it is never with Vogue), a modeling contract, and, subsequently, fame, fortune, love, and happiness (at least, this is what is suggested are the results of winning the competition. But, quick, name a winner of a reality show modeling competition who isn't married to a former cast member of The Brady Bunch and isn't named Yoanna or Jaslene. See, if you can't even be famous enough for me to remember your name...) Anyway, this show is different because all the contestants have a disability. Two are deaf, two are missing their arms (one was born without an arm, one lost it in a car accident), one had her leg amputated due to congenital defects, one has neuropathy and chronic fatigue syndrome, one is a paraplegic (car accident), and one has partial paralysis (also, due to a car accident).

It is a fascinating show for a variety of reasons.

What does it mean to be a model? Society tells us that models are the ideal form of human beauty. In looking at models we can see what a society considers perfection. What does it mean to suggest that someone who is physically imperfect can also represent this ideal of perfection? Should a disability which doesn't affect one's appearance be considered a disability in a competition like this? Are there disabilities which fundamentally would prevent one from being considered model material?

In the first episode, the models were told that they would be judged for their photos. However, when it came down to deciding who to send home, one of the judges wanted to get rid of one of the deaf models because she wasn't visibly disabled and, therefore, her becoming a fashion model wouldn't make her a role model for the disability community. Since there had not been this discussion surrounding the other models whose disabilities were not front and center in their pictures (i.e. everyone except the two women who are missing arms), I suspect this discussion was trying to argue why one should go home and not the other. However, the judges decided (not unanimously) that the woman who uses a prosthetic leg should be sent home because her picture was the worst and that was what they had told the models they would be evaluated on. Then there was a teaser for what happens in upcoming weeks and they showed a clip of the paraplegic woman suggesting the woman with chronic fatigue and neuropathy wasn't really disabled.

I found the judging exchange and the teaser to be interesting because they simultaneously challenge our notions of what we mean by disability and how context can color our perceptions.

I'll admit, when I first heard about this show, I read about it on Wikipedia and had the split second thought "oh, they have two deaf people. Isn't that sortof cheating?" Because modeling is about appearance and, as the judge pointed out, you can't see someone is deaf. Theoretically, being deaf isn't necessarily a hindrance to being a model because one can still be gorgeous, even if one can't hear. While I realize that deviation from the norm is a problem for everyone, precisely because the world is created to cater to the norm, to not have one's hearing strikes me as being a far greater disability than not having a leg and using a prosthetic (Oscar Pistorius runs with prosthetics and is accused of having an unfair advantage over runners who must use their own legs). I am not suggesting missing a limb is not difficult, but so much of our lives revolves around hearing that to not have it would seem to be a greater hardship. But that is day to day life, in terms of modeling, as I said, no one can see whether you can hear or not. A deaf person can pass in a way that someone missing a limb cannot which obviously will lead some to suggest that they don't count as disabled, because we so often assume that discrimination occurs only when people cannot hide the ways in which they are different.

As the teaser suggests, the question of who is more disabled and who has it worse will rear its head and will, if this conforms to reality show guidelines, be wholly unsatisfactory and remain unresolved. Perhaps it is impossible for this issue to even be resolved. Who can judge another man's journey? Obviously, some of the contestants disabilities create more difficulties for them in day to day life and, as I discussed above, modeling has demands which allow for some disabilities more than others. However, we make our judgments about disabilities being greater or lesser based on our own biases. If both women are ultimately unable to walk a runway due to their physical disabilities, why is paralyis caused by a severed spinal chord more serious than severe fatigue? Are both of them trumped by the woman who has brain damage as well as physical problems, despite the fact that she can walk? Are the people who became disabled due to accidents in their teens worse off, disability-wise, because they were forced to adapt to a new set of circumstances, whereas the people born with their disabilities have never known anything else?

We the viewers are constantly reminded the show is looking for the person who is most likely to have a successful career, not the most disabled model they can find. So is a person who is paralyzed from the waist down or a person who, in her own words, "walks like Frankenstein" automatically out of the running because they will not be able to do runway work? The judges keep talking about personality, which is another way of saying that how one deals with the challenges is as important as the challenges themselves. If personality is as important as appearance (because, let's be honest here, all these women have beautiful faces and bodies) will the disability eventually become irrelevant and the judges will just be judging the model on her own terms or does the disability and its severity gain even more importance?

It should be noted that this whole notion of who is more disabled is brought up not in the context of who can do the work, but in the context of who deserves to win the prize. Is this show, by its very nature as a competition, creating false divisions and distinctions where there are none?

So many questions and since this aired in Britain over a year ago, I can't get too emotionally worked up over the storyline since I know how it will end, so I can spend all my time looking for the greater implications of whatever happens and how the producers have chosen to edit the show.

Is it strange that no one thought of doing a show like this earlier? It is a sad commentary on the fashion industry in particular and on our society's perceptions of beauty in general that this show seems so revolutionary. It has been fifteen years since Heather Whitestone became the first disabled Miss America and nine since Theresa Uchytil became the first visibly disabled Miss America. Isn't it a strange turn of events that the Miss America pageant, something so many of us see as antiquated, is more progressive in its views of beauty than society as a whole?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Muppets Sing Bohemian Rhapsody

Yes, I am thankful for many things, but right now, I feel like I am most thankful for this. My favorite part is Animal, but perhaps this is because he is screaming "Momma" repeatedly and playing the drums, he reminds me of Julian.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

He's A Handful

Julian is very excited he has finally turned five. It means he can go to the library during class. He also hopes it means he will be able to stop taking naps at school (it doesn't). We celebrated this morning with cream cheese frosted pumpkin muffins and shared pictures with his classmates. Unfortunately, we probably won't be doing anything more exciting today as we are all sick.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jurassic Halloween

As I do every year, I lobbied hard for the family costume of WordGirl (me), Captain Huggyface (Julian), and Toby (Fred), but Julian refused, in part because he wants to be the star of our costume drama, and in part because there are so many other exciting costumes out there.
A partial list of things Julian wanted to dress as for Halloween:
Pink Panther
As you can see, the list of possibilities is long and, in many cases, the execution of the costumes may be tricky. When Fred asked Julian how he would go as a tornado he said, "I dunno" and then when Fred said, "It is up to us to figure out?" Julian concurred. So a few weeks ago, I told him he was going as a pterodactyl because this was a costume I could make.
For the head, I created a frame with cardboard and a baseball hat. After a week of layering glue and newspaper strips, I painted the head with acrylic paints. My mom sewed his polar fleece pants, jacket, and wings, with bamboo sticks inserted at the ends to create a bit of shape.
Unfortunately, we probably approached the costumes from a visual standpoint and forgot about the actual wearability factor because Julian ended up doing most of his trick or treating without a head. It is a shame because I think he made a really excellent flying dinosaur.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


That was my initial response when I read this headline

Oklahoma To Post Details Of Women's Abortions Online

A new Oklahoma law requires physicians to disclose detailed information on women's abortions to the State's Department Of Health, which will then post the collected data on a public website. The controversial measure comes into effect on November 1 and will cost $281,285 to implement, $256,285 each subsequent year to maintain.

Oklahoma women undergoing abortion procedures will be legally forced to reveal:
1) Date of abortion
2) County in which abortion is performed
3) Age of mother
4) Marital status of mother
5) Race of mother
6) Years of education of mother
7) State or foreign country of residence of mother
8) Total number of previous pregnancies of the mother

Proponents of the legislation claim that women should not be concerned over their privacy since no names or "personal information" will be reported.

You know, anti-choice advocates love to say that they care about women, that they aren't pursuing their cause to punish women, and I wonder how they can say that with a straight face. Also, given the cost to implement and maintain this database, I have to wonder what will go unfunded in the state of Oklahoma and if the most Oklahoma tax payers feel this is a good use of their tax dollars.

I read the list of what a woman will be required to reveal and it highlights what the anti-choice activists believe about women who get abortions. I wonder why they didn't demand that women also reveal their religious affiliation and, possibly, their church. Could it be because they are afraid of finding out how many of their fellow parishioners, people who claim to believe what they believe, are also seeking this procedure? Just as they argue that the Bible says "Thou shalt not kill," but they seem to think assassinating George Tiller in a house of worship doesn't count, a lot of people's definition of "necessary" changes when it stops being about nameless, faceless people and becomes about one's self or one's loved ones.

I know the goal is to bring shame upon women who exercise their legally protected right to choose what happens to their bodies, but what if that plan backfires? What if people realize that these aren't random women who you can easily pigeon hole in your mind, these are their daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends? What if instead of shaming women, women embrace it and say, "yes, this is what I had to do and I would do it again." The power the scarlet letter holds is people's fear and people's shame.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

If You Do Nothing Else...

Please take the time to watch this, or read the transcript. I know, some of you can't stand Keith Olberman, but seriously, you need to watch this.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Want To Be Under The Sea

Years ago, I had the honor of watching Lisa Barcy perform a piece which she later turned into the film, Mermaid. It was an incredibly wonderful, envy-making performance piece and Mermaid is a beautiful film and if you ever have the opportunity to see it, jump at the chance (you will be moved. Also, you will also find yourself wishing you could be Lisa and have all of her talent). Andrew Bird liked it so much, he has adapted it as a video (above, watch it, you won't be disappointed) and asked Lisa to direct a video which has just debuted on Rolling Stone. I would embed it here if I could, but I cannot, so I encourage you to watch it over there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Insurance Companies Need Our Support Because They Keep Our Selfish Priorities In Check When We Can't"

Call Congress: tell them we need a strong public health insurance option-- 202-224-3121

What am I, some kind of Capitalist, expecting companies to compete in the free market?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fun Fact I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago

There is a group of jellyfish called Discomedusans (or Discomedusae, if you prefer).

How did this never come up?

My mother is a biology teacher and she never mentioned this to me. Sure, she is retired now, but she was still teaching back when I was a teenager, you would think that somewhere in all our back and forths on the topic of whether or not I could go to what I then had reason to believe was one of the coolest places on earth, she might have said something. Anything. "No, young lady, I am not letting you go turn yourself into a jellyfish!" Of course, I would have assumed she was making some oblique reference to drug usage and would have insisted that I only wanted to go there to dance.

And even though my mother did not make the obvious connection, how about the rest of the world? Medusa's was prominent enough that someone really should have made this connection. I mean, if the history of Dave Medusa is to be believed, Medusa's on Sheffield was the Chicago answer to Studio 54 and I am 100% sure someone would have pointed out if a group of sea invertebrates were known as Discostudiofiftyfourans.

All I am saying is I should not have had to learn about this from Prolific on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From the Perspective of the Storm Troopers...

The Jedi were terrorists.

I have always loved Star Warsand I have always hated terrorists.

When I was in high school, there were kids who were very supportive of the IRA because they were "freedom fighters." I was pretty vocal that those kids were idiots (this made me very popular at my Irish Catholic high school). However, I am glad to have encountered such people because they made it clear that one's reaction to terrorism is influenced by one's sympathy for the terrorists' cause.

I recently read a book which was interesting in that it presented an alternate view of reality regarding our current struggles with terrorism.In The Name Of God is Young Adult novel written by Paula Jolin who wanted to write a book whose characters resembled people she met in the Middle East. Nadia, the main character, is a teenager in Damascus who grows increasingly more frustrated with the lack of jobs for her male relatives, the secularism of her female relatives, and her government's oppression of its own citizens (something she is unable to accept on its face, insisting it is the fault of the United States and Israel). While I was happy to read the book, I found Nadia to be a fairly obnoxious main character. Her smug self-righteousness and her complete ignorance of the world outside her own experience of it made her an easy to manipulate recruit for a terrorist cell. Every time she had a condescending thought about how much happier her cousins would be if only they wore the hijab or refused to listen when people told her that Muslims are not automatically put in prison in the US or that The Bold and The Beautiful is not an accurate depiction of American life and morality, I found I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a good shake and shout, "Don't be such a tool, think for yourself you silly girl!" In terms of Nadia being an accurate representation of Syrians, she may be. However, it should be noted, that not all the characters in the book are like her. Most of her peers are embarrassed by her extremism and the views she espouses, and I must assume that they, too, are like young people the author has met in the Middle East. And the only difference, I feel, between Nadia and some people in this country (like Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck) is the religion they claim to follow and the people they vilify due to their own ignorance.

I find that despite my frustrations with the main character, the insight this book gave me into an alternate view of the world was invaluable. It is easy to accept that the terrorists hate us "for our freedom" because that means we are above reproach and don't have to bother seeing the world through their eyes. It is far harder to accept that for some people in the world, we are like the Empire and the people who commit acts of terror are like the Jedi. So maybe instead of just hating terrorists and the people who support them, we need to teach them who we really are, we need to redress our wrongs and give them accurate information to correct their ignorance. Otherwise, there will always be cowardly evil purveyors of hatred who can manipulate impressionable young people to carry out their acts for them.

And, finally, funny though this video may be, it doesn't change my views about Star Wars or terrorists. Though I suspect that wasn't ever the point.

The Odds Against You

"Lotto sales increase every time there's a bigger jackpot--precisely correlating with how often statisticians cry."--read more at

But the real question is: If Lotto tickets told the truth, would that have any effect whatsoever on their sales?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank You, Joe Wilson

And the rest of the Republican Party for showing your true colors last night. Guess respect for the Office of the President only applies when it is someone from your own party. As someone who heard the "the president deserves respect even if he isn't someone you voted for" admonition from the Republicans in my life more than once, loved ones who tried to explain away all the Clinton bashing of the nineties as resulting from the Lewinsky scandal, I am holding your feet to the fire on this one. Because whether you voted for him or not, Barack Obama is the elected president of the United States. You claim the President needs to be more conciliatory, but when was President Bush conciliatory? When he was telling us we needed to go to war in Iraq because of the threat their weapons of mass destruction posed to us? Yeah, no member of congress held up signs or broke decorum and called him a liar while he was giving a speech, even though history has demonstrated that he was less than truthful with us. As I said, I guess respect and decorum only are required for people who have an R after their names.

I know, I know, the "Liberals are Liars" meme is a strong one in right wing circles, so maybe Wilson just forgot he wasn't on Fox News last night. Unfortunately for him, he chose to have his outburst before people who fact check statements (and found that his was false).

So, yeah, thanks Joe Wilson for showing us all the content of your character. Now that we know, we can choose to petition Congress to censure you for your behavior and we can decide to give money to your opponent (that's what we crazy liars do, we give money and volunteer for candidates we like).

Oh, and thank you because someone decided to dust off this old web chestnut, just for you.

P.S. Politifact also fact checked last night's speech.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Back To School

How we spent our last day of summer and the first day of school:

We began the morning with breakfast and then some building. Julian wanted me to help him make a semi-truck with his bristle blocks, but that quickly morphed into a demand to create a bus.

He declared this to be the best thing I ever made for him.

Our plan for the afternoon was to go to the Children's Museum at Navy Pier and I capitulated to Julian's request that we have McDonald's for lunch. That conversation went like this
And we can go to McDonald's.
Really? Because I get the feeling you don't really like McDonald's food, that you just like the toy.
No, I like the food. I like the apple juice and the chicken nuggets and the french fries.
So you would be happy if you didn't get a toy.
You always get a toy. Even if you ask them not to give you a toy, you will get a toy.
(chuckling)Honey, I don't have to buy a Happy Meal. I am pretty sure I can get the food without a toy.
(silence while Julian thinks this over and plays with his bristle blocks)
Mama, if you ask them not to give me a toy and they give me one anyway, it's okay.
I saw that this was an argument I was unlikely to win. However, I insisted that we bike down to Navy Pier. Julian was opposed to this idea ("we can take a bus"), but couldn't argue with my logic ("I have no money for the bus") and we eventually began our journey.

As we biked past Oz Park, Julian announced he didn't want to go to the Children's Museum, he wanted to play at Oz Park instead. I asked if he was sure, he insisted he was. I suggested we could go to the zoo later and he agreed.

After an hour or so, Julian announced that he was starving and wanted to go to Starbucks. I pointed out that Starbucks doesn't really have food. We negotiated a stop at Starbucks (it involved agreeing not to buy a prepackaged sandwich and making sure they didn't put whipped cream on his drink because he swears it makes the drinks taste yucky).

Afterwards, we went to my mom's house. Julian took a much needed bath.

We stayed for dinner and then came home. I worried that since Julian stayed up a bit later last night, he would not wake up, so I set the alarm. This was not necessary. Julian was up early, packing his lunch box and talking about the things he would need for his full day at school (i.e. a sleepy toy and blanket for his nap, his classroom slippers, and lunch). I had a hard time convincing him that even though he was taking lunch to school, he still needed to eat breakfast. He was very anxious to get going.

After maneuvering the crazy traffic and parking, we arrived at school. Julian was excited to be back and to see his new locker.

I had to remind him to hug me good-bye before he dashed into the classroom.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Elephants Are Made Of Elements

The Periodic Table is cool. They Might Be Giants are cool. It was only a matter of time before the two were brought together to form a combination that made peanut butter and chocolate weep from jealousy because they could never be so wonderful.

Remember kids: science is fun!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Hidden Talents

I used to joke that I was going to run for Alderman because I thought it would be a hilarious thing to include on an acting resume.
Special Skills: Juggling, soprano with strong belt, expert knitter, good with children, Alderman of the First Ward...
As this video shows, not only is he the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken has talents which make my juggling and knitting abilities look downright puny.

When I was in eighth grade, our homework for social studies was to draw the map of the United States freehand (I guess this was what the Chicago Public School system considered arts education). I don't think my mom saved the map I drew, nor was the map worth saving, however, it was a respectable attempt (as I recall, it looked like a map of the US if it were reflected in a funhouse mirror--New England was stretched out and the Plains states were scrunched). As I watch this video, I realize I should have drawn it out state by state instead of doing the outline first and filling in the states afterwards. Alas, I should have practiced so that I, too, would have this cool party trick to whip out to wow an audience (though, to be honest, I am not sure I would ever have an opportunity to demonstrate this skill in an audition and/or conventional theatrical setting, but then, I'm never asked to juggle either).

Thursday, September 03, 2009

It's A Thin Line Between Facebook and Stalking

I kindof love this.

I think a lot of us who live a portion of our lives inside our computers feel like it doesn't matter if we put all sorts of private information on the computer because almost no one is looking. Like being naked in the locker room at the gym. I mean, yes, we know strangers may see us and even may be making judgments about us based upon what they see ("oh look, she has more cellulite than me" or "those breasts don't look real") but we expect everyone to follow the rules of decorum and pretend they saw nothing. Is this an irrational expectation? I mean, yes, on the face of it, it sounds like it is. Except the only way this whole public display of private information shabang (blogosphere/facebook/youtube) remains afloat is if we all continue to at least say we are averting our eyes and not talk about it. It's like one big Speak Out where, of course, we are talking about the stories we heard, but we are respecting the storytellers by not talking directly to them about their stories unless we are already friends with them and, even then, we proceed with caution.

Art and Commerce

A few months back, I encountered this commercial on YouTube and proceeded to call all my friends and shout "Oh my god, Wim Wenders made a commercial for Barilla." It is every bit as beautiful and creepy as you may expect it to be. It inspires me to eat more Barilla pasta.

This commercial featuring Salvador Dali shilling chocolate does nothing for me.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happily Ever After

One half of Britain's longest married couple has died at the Plymouth residential home where he lived with his wife of 81 years.
Frank Milford met Anita, both 101, at a YMCA dance in Plymouth, Devon, in 1926 and they married two years later.

Instead of filling kids' heads with stories of princes swooping in and rescuing princesses, maybe we should tell them about the couple who credited the success of their marriage to "making up after rows with a kiss and cuddle." Forget the glass slipper, I would much rather have 81 years of happiness.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Mr. Taxi Cab Over Accessorizer

I have always been a fan of the "Real Men of Genius" radio campaign. This one, honoring Mr. Taxi Cab Over Accessorizer, may be the best--after I stopped laughing (something which was compounded by Julian repeating that he had junk in his trunk) I called Fred and told him that Budweiser would have to stop this ad campaign because I didn't think it would be possible to surpass this one. However, Wikipedia tells me there are hundreds of these ads and this one has been around for a few years, so obviously, they haven't run out of ideas and I will probably run across one I find even funnier. But for now, I too would like to raise a glass to the people who use glitter and christmas ornaments in order to turn their vehicles into carnival floats. I only wish I actually liked the taste of beer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Big Foot Is Real?"

I am so glad to see that some people are channeling their frustration with the lies about health reform into something funny. And, because I am a sucker for a good chart, I present you with this lovely one showing exactly who is responsible for all the lies you may have heard.

The scary thing is, this may actually work. The people who profit from the status quo are throwing a lot of money towards maintaining it. Don't let them drown out your voice. Contact your representatives and the White House.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And The Weather's Good

"People started calling those in power to account
And people started saying, "I want my voice to count"
And people started learning that they don't need to fight
And they control their future and try to make it right"
The best thing about this song is not the realization that Mick Jones is still making music we all want to bounce up and down to all these years later. The best thing about this song is not the lyrics, which express a positive view that people have the power to demand social justice and change. No, the best thing about this song (for me, at any rate) is that Julian is running around singing it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sometimes I Have A Lot I Want To Say

But the problem is that I know it will result in me spending many hours typing, reading, editing, thinking of more stuff I failed to mention, and so on. So I put off writing what I want to write about until I have time. Except that I get busy with life and, before I know it, the idea has developed a gravitational force and tons of other things glom onto it, turning what was a speck of dust into a topic the size of Saturn (complete with rings). Then I can't write because I have no idea how to start something which I know will be massive. And I can't write little things because the big thing just squats in my brain, like an enormous toad. I get cranky because I know it will be nowhere near as profound as it is in my imagination. Before I know it, the procrastination alone has sucked hours from my life and it is time for me to consider going to sleep because, I tell myself, I have all this stuff that I really will write tomorrow. I promise.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Elegant Women Are Very Rare

Alright, my first reaction is that there is no way this is real. This has to be an extremely clever piece of viral marketing. In a few months, we'll see ads for "Dimitri's Guide to Dating" and all will be clear (kindof like the That Emily Girl thing which happened a few years back, though I don't know what happened to the television show which that was supposed to get us to watch). But then I think it could be real. After all, I have met guys who are like this. I dated a guy in college who, if he is still alive and dating, probably leaves messages like this on women's answering machines these days (heck, he probably tried spiels like this on me. I spent a lot of time ignoring him). Anyway, real or fake, it is worth a listen.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hardcore Geek Love

I have been known to geek out hard over books, television shows, musicians, etc. However, as much as I may love Doctor Who and Roddy Frame, it never even occurred to me to get a tattoo of a TARDIS or song lyrics. Clearly, some Twilight fans are way more punk rock in their love than I could ever be.

This sort of thing makes me think I should try to read those books so I can see what all the fuss is about. I find it impossible to believe they are worthy of this.

So now, after all this, I can't get the refrain "in the shadow, boy meets man" out of my head.

The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

The year is 2070, and the world has been forever changed by nuclear war. The doorways between the worlds have been opened and humanity is touched by magic. Fourteen year old Ejii Ugabe is one of the new metahumans to emerge in this world; she is a shadow speaker, just learning to use her abilities, unsure of her place in the world. She is haunted by memories of her father's cruel misogyny and her violent memories of his murder. When the shadows tell her that only she can prevent war from breaking out between earth and the other worlds, she embarks on a journey with her talking camel across the Sahara. She soon joins forces with Dikeogu, a runaway slave who cannot accept that he,too, is a metahuman. As her journey progresses, her power develops, and she learns that she must find a way to reconcile the warring aspects of herself just as she must reconcile the leaders who see destruction of the other as the only way to remain safe.
"You and I are both cursed and gifted," Ejii said.
"More cursed, maybe," he said with a chuckle.
"Maybe," Ejii said. "Dikeogu, make me a promise. Let's both make a promise."
"Of what?"
"That above all things, we do what has to be done to make things better," she said. "That we leave this earth having made it better than when we came to it."
I loved this book. I loved that it was set in Africa (it made so much sense, I find myself wondering why more fantasy/sci-fi novels are not set in Africa). I loved that the post-apocalyptic world was one of magic and growth (random forests spring up overnight) as opposed to one of decay and death. I loved how Ejii had to learn to accept not only her shadow speaking abilities, but also her value as a female. I was disheartened by the idea (and yes, I know it is a work of fiction) that 61 years from now, there may still be men who insist that women are inferior and their only talent is to serve men. I loved how idealistic Ejii was and how she helps to heal Dikeogu, how he comes to adopt her world view.

You should read this book. It is classified as Young Adult, I suspect because the main character is fourteen and none of the themes are exclusively adult ones; I thought about nuclear war all the time when I was in junior high and saving the world is theme which knows no age limits.

In case you are wondering why I am writing about books: I have been reading a lot lately. While this is a good thing, I find I am not blogging as much and suspect that my skills are getting rusty. So it finally dawned on me that I could tell you about some of the books I have read which I liked. We will see if this catches on (and by "catches on" I mean if I feel inspired to write about more books, now that I have lost my book review/recommendation virginity).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Toys and Old Ideas

I have always been a fan of opaque black tights. They go with everything, they hide the fact that one hasn't shaved one's legs, and they make a person look taller and thinner. The perfect accessory, in my opinion. Unfortunately, black tights have a nasty tendency to run.

About a decade ago, I took a few pairs of ruined tights and cut them into ribbons. Then I sewed the ribbons end to end. Then I wound it into a ball and began knitting test swatches. The fabric this created was very heavy and stretchy. I couldn't quite imagine what I could make from this yarn. A bathing suit, maybe, but the fabric was way too thick and warm for an item one might intend to wear in the summertime. For a while, I toyed with the idea of knitting stockings from the yarn and taking a series of photos to document the process, but despite the internal logic of this plan, the yarn itself is not terribly pliable, so it would make a very uncomfortable stocking, and it seemed like a waste to knit even one sock just for an art project which would languish on my hard drive with the rest of them. So the ball of yarn languished with the rest of my stash, waiting for inspiration to deliver it from obscurity.

Last week, we bought a new computer and an iPod Touch. I am still learning what can be done with this handheld device, I haven't even downloaded any apps yet, but I am already worrying about how it will fare in my purse.

I need something to protect my new toy from my keys and my cell phone. The internet is filled with patterns for hand knit iPod cozies and holders.

After trying a lace weight cashmere on 0 needles (which was beautiful), I decided I needed yarn that would would be thick enough to protect the device and would not be so pretty as to make me concerned about what my keys mights do to fabric. I mean, it is kindof crazy to make a protective sock for an iPod only to become concerned about the fate of the sock. And then, I had my peanut butter and chocolate moment.

I knit this in a couple of hours on number 10.5 needles. I decided it needed a handle because it would be easier to fish it out of my purse.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Karma Is Far More Demanding and Far Less Forgiving Than I

As you know, I recently attended my high school reunion, to which I wore two pairs of Spanx and control top tights. As crazy as this was (I didn't wear something that was so tight that I needed all that reinforcement) I explained my choice as follows: I have issues and I was about to set foot in a room full of people who gave me these issues. Of course, this wasn't completely fair to the people with whom I attended high school because my issues were already in full swing by the time I encountered most of them.

When I was around six years old, there was a girl in my class, I will call her Sarah (this was not her name, but for the purposes of this story, it will serve. Her name is, ultimately, irrelevant). She was a year older than me (as you may recall, I went to a Montessori school where we had three age groups in each class--3-6, 6-9, 9-12). I have few recollections of her besides the fact that we sometimes wore our hair the same way and she seemed to like to tease people. However, there is one memory of her which has stuck with me all these years and for which, I felt, the universe would be punishing her at some point.

When I was seven or eight, she once came up to me and asked me how much I weighed. I wasn't sure (there was a scale at home and I had stood on it, but I really hadn't paid attention to what the number was), so I guessed and said 60 pounds. She proceeded to go on and on about how fat I was and how disgusting it was that I should weigh 60 whole pounds. I was ashamed and, when I went home, I remember weighing myself (I think I weighed something like 65 pounds, which horrified me even more) and I recall crying to my mother that I hoped that, someday soon, Sarah would weigh 70, 80, 90 pounds. My mom couldn't understand what my problem was and just told me to stop caring what other people weighed (while this was probably not the right response from my mom, looking at photos of me from this time, I can understand it. I was a tall, skinny kid and I am sure she found it impossible that anyone, large or small, would be calling me fat). This memory has stuck with me because it was not long after that I started to gain weight and then changed schools and hit puberty and, before I knew it, I had a weight problem and an eating disorder. Even though I know that many factors contributed to my hatred of my thighs and me sticking my finger down my throat, a small voice in my head wonders what might have happened if Sarah (not her real name) had kept her mean mouth shut thirty years ago.

Of course, a much larger, more mature voice in my head wonders what poor Sarah must have been hearing at home for her to spread such poison at school.

So, the other day, I was talking to my former 6-9 teacher about Facebook and she mentioned that Sarah had contacted her. She mentioned that the whole message Sarah sent was about being off her diet and then she showed me Sarah's picture, commenting that Sarah had never been a very pretty girl. I blurted out that Sarah was responsible for setting me on the road to having an eating disorder and proceeded to tell a condensed version of what had happened. The thing was that as I was telling the story, I was looking at pictures of Sarah and I couldn't help feeling a bit bad. I felt I was being indiscreet to mention it and that it was pathetic of me for this to be my most salient memory of this girl. I was sure the other women in the office were judging me negatively for talking about this. But what made me feel really guilty was that, above all else, I felt vindicated as I looked at her pictures, thinking that on the most shallow level, I had beaten her at her game.

In some ways, it is terribly satisfying to find out the universe is far crueler than one ever suspected. However, it also makes one feel contrite because, of course, one never really wanted the other person to suffer that much. Yes, when I was eight, I wanted Sarah to feel fat and bad about herself because she made me feel fat and bad about myself. But, as I said, a kid doesn't come up with this stuff on their own, they learn it from someone, and it is a safe bet that Sarah picked on me because she needed to feel superior to someone and, for whatever reason, I was a good target. For all I know, she may have done this to all the girls in our class, but I may be the only person who remembers it because I may have been the only person with whom it resonated. And, really, this is not enough, in and of itself, to cause someone to have an eating disorder. As I said, she started me on the road, but it was long road. Not to mention that for all my issues, my road took a healthy turn many years ago and I am relatively stable and healthy. Looking at her adult pictures confirms that she has a far worse relationship with her body and with food than I do (or ever did), that she is not in a happy or healthy place, and this must have started long before she ever decided to talk to me about my weight. So while it would be nice to say that she is the victim of karmic retribution, I feel the punishment is far crueler than the crime or even that she was being punished long before she committed the crime. It is hard not to feel bad about wishing her ill.

Of course, if there is ever a reunion of my 6-9 class from my Montessori school, I won't be foregoing the many layers of compressing undergarments. Seriously, just because I believe that who people are on the inside is more important than how they look on the outside doesn't mean I am capable of cutting myself any slack with regards to appearance. I feel shallow for caring about appearance and but I still feel triumphant (even now, after writing all this) that I am a prettier and skinnier adult. Intellectually, I know that no one notices these things, but emotionally, I am still girl who thinks people are judging her because of a number on a scale. No amount of karma can make that go away.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Could Make Me Excited About Bilbo Baggins?

Previous to today, I may have said nothing.

Despite my love for The Lord of the Rings, I never managed to finish reading The Hobbit. This is mostly because I just couldn't get invested in the story and I blame this on Bilbo being a far less interesting character than Frodo (of course, I haven't even tried to read The Hobbit since I was eleven, and back then, I didn't talk about stuff like characters, I just found the book boring). And because I felt this way, I couldn't get excited by the prospect of Peter Jackson adapting The Hobbit for the screen. I mean, sure, maybe I'd get around to seeing it eventually, but I didn't imagine I'd be shelling out cash to see it opening weekend in the theatres.

I know, this is blasphemy. Yes, go ahead, pelt me with criticism. Tell me I am not embracing the grand mastery of Tolkein's vision and you will report me to the proper authorities so that they may strip me of any and all claims I may have to science fiction/fantasy geekdom.

So, given these feelings, what could possibly make me suddenly very interested in the plans for this film adaptation?

Doctor Who's David Tennant Tipped To Play Bilbo Baggins

Of course, it is all just speculation and probably won't happen. But now I am thinking of The Hobbit and, because I am thinking about it, I am considering giving the book another chance.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

What'choo Talking About?

A few months back, when it was announced that the Sears Tower had been sold and would be renamed the Willis Tower, some were all aflutter at the idea of calling the former World's Tallest Building by any other name, while others (well, me) made the inevitable Diff'rent Strokes references (i.e. "at least they aren't asking us to call it The Gooch"), as Todd Bridges is the one, true Willis in our hearts. However, it seems a name change was nothing compared to other changes the new owners had in store for us.

Glass ledges! The pictures alone make my heart race.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Support My Local Public Radio Station

Earlier this evening on Sound Opinions, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis had an excellent analysis of Michael Jackson's music and legacy. Listen to it. And consider giving money to the radio station which they call home.

Friday, June 12, 2009

So I Guess Cars Not Fitting In The Parking Lot Is Part Of The Trader Joe's Experience

Yes, it often seems I spend most of my free time at Trader Joes, so I can only hope my friend David sent me this because he believes I fall into "beautiful mom in yoga clothes" category.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Everybody Drinks!

Earlier today, Kristen was bemoaning the monotony of her life and how this prevented her from blogging. She insisted that my life was far more eventful than hers. I didn't argue, as life with a toddler is nothing if not a constant whirlwind of activity; sometimes, it is dull and it often fails to be blogworthy (the new, 21st century version of contraception) but it is never monotonous.

Something happened today, however, which makes me doubt this.

But first, a bit of backstory.

As some of you are aware, I used to be a regular participant on an online debate board, a board I referred to as Smart Moms Who Like To Argue, because while it was officially the Feeding Choices Debate Board at Babycenter, we usually argued about everything else--things like whether mothers should drink cocktails at playdates or if five year olds are too young to have their own cell phones. Which isn't to say we didn't discuss food and food related issues (as many of us noted, there was a reason we all gravitated to a board about Feeding Choices, even if we ended up forgetting about food and staying for the intellectual stimulation provided by the other super intelligent women). So in our healthy food discussions, Barilla Pasta Plus came up quite a bit. So much so that someone eventually decided that we all had to drink when it was mentioned. And before we knew it, Barilla Pasta Plus became not only our go to food for a healthy Mac & Cheese, but our mascot and a good excuse to get drunk at four o'clock in the afternoon (without the playdate).

However, much as I love Barilla Pasta Plus, I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe's, and TJ's does not stock BPP. So when I find myself in a traditional grocery store, I stock up. I found myself in such a story today and remembered we were running low on BPP. also, if the commercials are to be believed, I may find an extremely attractive man demonstrating his desire for me by presenting me with a Barilla product and who couldn't use that on a Friday afternoon? When I got to the appropriate area of the store, I was met with quite a surprise:

Barilla Pasta Plus now comes in Farfalle.

(I know, you were expecting me to say that the commercials are true and I am leaving Fred for a man who is not only unspeakably hot, but will get me fat on pasta. Sorry about that. Also, I am aware that my particular shopping quirks render me out of the loop and this whole Farfalle thing may be old news to you. I apologize if I misled you).

I did a dance in the aisle. I commented to the other shoppers at the momentousness (spell check tells me a word, but does it make sense?) of this development. I demonstrated a great deal of self control and bought only two boxes (it wasn't on sale, whereas Angel Hair and Spaghetti were).

And then, when I finished, I realized that I was getting really excited about a shape of pasta.

Which just goes to show that either my life is more boring than yours or, despite the nonstop adventure that is my life, I am still moved by the little things in life. You be the judge. I am off to boil some water.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cooler Than Actually Having Varicose Veins

When I was young and bored in class, I used to take a green highlighter to the veins in my arm. I thought it looked cool and it was an easy way to pass the time as the veins in my arms and legs float very close to the surface and/or I have tracing paper for skin. So when I saw these stockings, I wanted them badly. Of course, I want the stockings, but I am not happy about the fact that my veins are so visible without any aid whatsoever.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Staring at The Swim Team Gets You Killed By A Gang Of Dancing Ninja Men Who Know How To Twirl

Some literal videos are funnier than others. It helps when the source material is so completely bizarre and the production values for the parody are so high. Oh, Bonnie Tyler, that someone could do this with your video almost makes me forgive you for the whole David Copperfield Grand Canyon thing (wherein I believe you wore the same dress that you wear in this video. Babe, you should have made the record company spring for a few more looks. Not that it didn't work for you; no one could rock a white nightgown in 1984 like you, Bonnie Tyler. I'm just saying you come dangerously close to looking like the crazy lady who is always roaming her yard in a bathrobe and slippers).

Of course, now I have the original version of this song stuck in my head. That is painful.

The more I consider these lyrics, the more I feel they have an "Our love was good, but now it's gone sour, but we can be happy forever in the afterlife" vibe about them. Not unlike Sinead O'Connor's Troy (a song I hold near and dear to my heart). I know, everyone says this is a love song and it is so romantic, but as I have noted before, people have a tendency to confuse professions of stalker tendencies with love when it is done in musical form. Turn around if you must, but as far as I am concerned, "forever's gonna start tonight" may top the list of things I don't ever want to hear someone singing to me, especially if, by their own admission, they are not in control of their actions because they are experiencing a total eclipse of the heart.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Serpent Headed Gorgons From The Past

Alright, I know I talk about 80s music to a degree which would make you think I don't listen to music that is less than 20 years old. Which is untrue (anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing me go on about the Franz Ferdinand concert will attest to this). I know. And I could just blame the fact that I went grocery shopping today, because Stanley's seems to only play 80s music, but then I would have to write about 99 Luft Ballons and/or OMD as that was what was playing when I bought pineapple and carrots today. Also, Stanley's was the first store I hit today, so the experience of the brand new Whole Foods should have wiped my mind clean of anything I experienced previously (there's a wine bar in the middle of the new Whole Foods. And a macrobiotic section. And quail eggs for sale). So anyway, I was watching videos on YouTube and stumbled across this one and was reminded of how I saw Blancmange in concert freshman year with Cece and how Cece convinced her mom to let her go to a concert, unchaperoned, in the city by telling her that Blancmange was a French band, so really it was practically necessary for her to see them in concert, for the sake of her foreign language skills and broadening her horizons. By my Freshman year of high school, my mom allowed me to see shows at Metro, unchaperoned, which makes absolutely no sense as she wouldn't let me go to Medusa's at that time.

Alright, I clearly have drunk too much wine tonight because I have no idea where I wanted to go with this post. Mentioning Medusa's has completely derailed me because now I just want to tell all the odd Medusa's stories that I remember, except none of them are really about Medusa's.

For example, there was one Saturday afternoon, probably sophomore year, when Tara called me up in a panic because Cece wanted to go to Medusa's that night and Tara had led Cece to believe she went regularly and she was worried she wouldn't look the part (is it strange that Cece should appear twice in this post when she has never before made an appearance on this blog? If this blog were a television show, she would be listed as a guest star in the opening credits, but she still may only appear in this one episode). So I went over to her house (luckily we were in walking distance of one another. I probably would have learned to drive earlier if I hadn't grown up in Lincoln Park) with appropriate raiment (is it strange that even then I had enough black to clothe a small army?) and after teasing her hair and applying lots of black eyeliner, Tara was gothed out (though we didn't use the term goth back then. Back then, I would have said she was punked out, but who were we kidding? Tara was so not punk rock). She called me the following morning to say that boys she went to grammar school with didn't even recognize her.

I remember someone telling me how she kissed her best friend's boyfriend at Medusa's and her friend found out because she had been wearing lipstick which glowed under blacklight. I remember thinking that proper planning is necessary if one is to engage in adulterous behavior (although, of course, I did not think the word "adulterous" because I didn't use words like that when I was younger, and it probably would have been inaccurate if I had).

More than one person has told me a story about having sex at Medusa's. Obviously, I'm a prude because my internal reaction is always, "Where was there enough privacy to have sex? Was it in a bathroom stall? That sounds really uncomfortable and, yuck!" Of course, I never have said this out loud.

But those are stories about other people, what about me? Considering how desperately I wanted to go and how long (in teenage terms) it took my mom to agree to let me go, I have surprisingly few memories of the place. I remember what I wore (black leggings, black eyeliner, black shoes, an over-sized shirt). I remember who I went with on various occasions. I remember dancing. That is all. No drama (by which I mean zero drama. I am not trying to suggest that traditional Japanese theatre was taking place in the nightclub, but how cool would it have been if it had?).

There is probably an important lesson in there about things not living up to one's expectations, about how in getting what you want you realize that what you wanted wasn't what you thought it was. Except that isn't true. There have been many things I wanted which I have gotten which have met, if not exceeded, my expectations (finishing my thesis, being front row center for a number of concerts and getting kissed on the cheek by Roddy Frame are just a few things which come to mind). So maybe, as I am a mother now, I should assume the lesson I am supposed to be taking away from this is related to motherhood, something about trusting one's self and the job one has done raising one's children and giving them space because they will make the right choices. I mean, my mom was so worried about me going to Medusa's and then, when I did go, it was totally harmless as far as I was concerned. Stuff was going on all around me, but I was oblivious to it all because I was more interested in dancing.

Of course, it is always possible that my experiences at Medusa's were filled with tears and I have repressed those memories. If that is the case, I would recommend we leave things as they are (and here we find the limits of YouTube and the interwebs because I cannot find a video or even lyrics to Blancmange's song Why Don't They Leave Things Alone? which sucks because that is what would have tied this whole post together. I was already patting myself on the back, but I have been foiled. You will just have to trust me that this whole thing would have made a lot more sense if only some extant footage of Blancmange playing this song somewhere had been uploaded).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For Those Of You Who Miss The Knitting Blog

Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren is available for purchase. The patterns in this book are fabulous. The degree of difficulty ranges from perfect for the new knitter easy to kick your ass unless you are super experienced hard. If you knit, know a knitter, or have dreams of someday knitting, you should buy this book.

Full disclosure: I was a test knitter for this book. I knit the sweater at right along with a sailor sweater and stuffed lion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dressed In Black, Again

Someone asked me after reading the Spandau Ballet post if I subscribed to some special 80s musical artists news feed because, according to this person, I am remarkably well informed on the activities of bands about whom many people my age haven't thought in over twenty years. No, sadly, these stories just seem to find me and, for better or worse, I have this ridiculous memory which could never remember how to determine the length of the hypotenuse but can probably still sing along to every song on Black Celebration and Some Great Reward*. Clearly, I am being stalked by the 80s, kindof like a much less extreme version of the fate afflicting Alex on Ashes to Ashes (well, except that I am not forced to wear Flashdance shirts and can leave whenever I want). How else to explain the following headline on Yahoo when I went to check my email?

Reports: Depeche Mode frontman rushed to hospital in Athens

Really, Yahoo, this is what you believe should be in the top headlines? Was it really such a slow news day? Isn't there a war or two you could be reporting on?

So I have to assume that, for reasons which we can only guess, the universe wanted me to know that Dave Gahan was hospitalized today.

Maybe the universe wants me (and by extension you) to be thinking about Depeche Mode. Alright, we can do that for a bit.

I'm afraid I don't have anything terribly profound to say about them.

I never saw them in concert. A friend of mine went to one of shows on the Black Celebration tour and complained to me about all the overtly homoerotic imagery he felt they employed (he singled out Martin Gore in particular). I know, sounds completely ridiculous now, but this was 1986 and he was fourteen (though I recall finding it silly of him back then, too). So having never seen them in all these years and watching all these YouTube uploads of live shows, I want to go to their concert. After all, they are on tour right now. Unfortunately, a quick look at their website shows that while they have called this tour The Tour of the Universe, they won't actually be performing in Chicago.** So what universe are they touring where Chicago is flyover country, but Salt Lake City, Utah is not? I know, I am making assumptions here, but I have difficulty imagining the Salt Lake City population being down with homoerotic imagery.

Maybe the universe wanted me to notice how amazingly good Dave Gahan looks considering he just turned 47.

He looks exactly the same as he did in 1986, does this man age? (Yes, I know, he was only 46 in the picture, but he still isn't doing much to dispel the myth that heroin addiction makes one glamorous, provided one gets the hell out in time).

Or maybe the universe just wanted to give me the opportunity to post the following song here. It isn't one of their best, but given the title of this blog and my usual choice in clothing, it's surprising it has never occurred to me to do so before now. What is very odd about this is that I wasn't even wearing a black today.

That universe, what a trickster.

*A friend of mine sent an email correcting me on this (he would have left a comment, but he didn't want me to lose face). He said, " I think the album is Some Great Reward" and I thought, "Uh, yeah, I know that." But then I came back and checked what I had written. I totally thought I had typed Some Great Reward, I edited this a number of times before publication and read Some Great Reward, but now I come back and find that it said Some Strange Reward. So either this is a Freudian slip on my part or someone has hacked into my google account.

**Another email I received (this from a stranger who is not interested in helping me save face) informed me that Depeche Mode will be headlining Lollapalooza this summer. She also said that the reason Dave doesn't age is because he is, in fact, undead. This led me to wish Celebrity Death Match still existed because I would pay good money to see claymation versions of Peter Murphy and Dave Gahan fight it out.