Month: September 2006 Page 1 of 3

A Vote for Your Republican Congressperson is a Vote for Torture!

The Senate passed Bush’s torture bill. The House of Representatives will probably follow suit.

I went to a retirement ceremony today at work for a colonel. They played the National Anthem, prayed, thanked the guy for helping create the most feared military on the face of the planet today, and gave his wife an award for staying with him throughout the whole thing.

If he’d been captured by the Iraqis, would anybody want him treated the way our “detainees” are going to be treated?

If the world’s “most feared military” can’t play fair–why should anybody else?

Think of the Day.

I wonder whether there’s a reason genetics seems to skip a generation. Like, for the longest time, the average life expectancy was 40 years or so. If a trait skipped one generation, then you’d be, statistically, sure to get necessary traits all the time, without doubling up. A shoemaker begets a poet, who begets a shoemaker, who begets a poet–that way, you always have a poet and a shoemaker available, without redundant shoemakers or poets.

Strange Bedfellows

Warning: Puns.

If Sondra Locke married Elliott Ness, then divorced him to marry Herman Munster, she’d become Sondra Locke Ness Monster.

If Shirley Jones married Tom Ewell, then Johnny Rotten, then Nathan Hale, she’d be Shirley Ewell Rotten Hale.

(via Grow-a-Brain.)

President Clinton Eats Fox News’s Chris Wallace Alive, Spits Out The Bones

Warning: Cusswords.

I’d never heard of Uncyclopedia before. Pity.

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on “Fox News Sunday,” I got a lot of e-mail from viewers. We all agreed that you are a dirty scumbag, but let’s be reasonable about this. Most of the veiwers wanted me to ask you: Did you have sexual relations with Osama bin Laden, and if so, why didn’t you do more to put him out of business? Also, what sexual positions was Osama fond of?

“We’re thinking of inviting him onto the O’Reilly Factor, just to see what would happen,” commented the stage director. “O’Reilly would be much more popular if he were eaten by a Democrat.”

Word of the Day.

Home with Ray, who’s down with a sinus infection. She took two naps yesterday. Dude.

Anyway, the word of the day:

prelapsarian (pree-lap-SAYR-ee-uhn) adjective

Relating to any innocent or carefree period in the past.

[From Latin pre- (before) + lapsus (fall). The term refers to the period
in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve lost their innocence.]

(via A.W.A.D.)

Brian Jaques in Colorado Springs

Brian Jaques (rhymes with rakes) signed copies of Voyage of Slaves at the south Borders in Colorado Springs yesterday, and I happened to be there.

First of all, let me give the disclaimer: I haven’t read any of his books. I picked up Redwall yesterday and read a few chapters, but I haven’t made any judgments on it yet.

I wandered into the Borders, intending to find a chai and a chair and do some drafting. Hm…lots of people wandering around…someone said something about Jakes doing a reading today, so I blew it off. Lots of kids sitting on the floor over by the cafe, bit noisy…I wandered off to look for books, because I was going to have to find somewhere else to work, but a pleasant hour spent wandering around looking at books really hasn’t been wasted.

The MC starts talking, and tries to explain how Mr. Jakes has changed his life (in a watered-down kind of way, saying that he was well down the path of making some “bad choices” when one of his teachers handed him Redwall. I got a glimpse of the writer and wandered over: he looked interesting. Shortish, round, bald, deep creases (you can’t call them wrinkles if there’s muscle behind them). Then he started talking.

What language is that? I wondered. After ten seconds or so, my brain started to sort it out. English…that’s English. Then he started making jokes about how he likes to come over to America, because he ends up with a different name. Mr. Ja-quez. Or, if he’s around Spanish-speaking people, Senior Ha-quayz. Oh, I think, it’s Brian Jaques. Not Zhaks, but Jakes. And the accent isn’t British–I can grasp TV British on first go, thank you very much–so much as it’s from Liverpool.

He’s supposed to be reading from his book Voyage of Slaves, but he never gets around to it. “Rather be a stand-up comic,” he says. He does a good job of it, performing for the kids.

“When I am in America, someone always asks me, ‘Mr. Ja-quez, when did you decide to be an author?’ (Imagine the question in Pepperpot.)

“Well, it doesn’t work like that. There wasn’t a morning when I woke up–Bing!–and said, [Effete swashbuckler voice] ‘Ho-ho! To-day, I shall be…an au-thah!’

“But I was always good at words. Good at words and terrible at maths.”

He tells a story about the schools in Liverpool, how they had playgrounds on the rooftops and how they’d lose a couple of first-years to despair, and how he sat next to a boy with thick glasses (he uses his own as a prop) who was good at maths, and how he got caught by his teacher because the boy wrote, “I don’t know the answer” to question 8, and Brian Jaques wrote, “And I don’t, either.” So kids, don’t cheat. Why? Because you’ll get caught!

He talked about spooky stories, and how, for him, they all go back to one verse of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I forget what the verse was, but it was something about being afraid to look back over your shoulder, because a specter walked close behind. He used to be a bobby (and explained that that meant policeman) who would patrol the docks, long, windowless, misty streets…it always sounded like footsteps were following him, because of the hoist chains knocking against the sides of the warehouses.

He explained that any book (especially his own) about pirates must be referred to like this: with one eye closed, one side of your mouth pulled back in a sneer, and….”Yaaaarrr!”

I can’t remember everything he said, but you could tell he loved to entertain kids. The kind of grandfatherly type that would have the parents saying, “Oh, Dad. Do you really think you should tell the one about the…”

Very fun. I didn’t get the book signed–hours of standing in line? No, thank you. But he’s quite the character…

Book Review.

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

I’m sure pretty nearly everybody who’s going to read this book has already read it, but I had some thoughts I wanted to write down anyway. Spoilers ahead, for those who mind.

This is a book about the South during the Civil Rights Movement; a white girl, who has been abused (not sexually) by her father runs away with her father’s housekeeper, who is black and has been beaten to within an inch of her life because she tried to register to vote. The girl’s mother died when she was four; they run away to to town in South Carolina where three sisters raise bees. It turns out the eldest sister had raised the girl’s mother much the way the housekeeper has raised the girl herself. The father eventually catches up to them, and the sisters (and other ladies belonging to their church) guilt the man into leaving the daughter and the housekeeper (a fugitive from justice) behind. Happily ever after, the end.

There’s nothing new under the sun, so I don’t mind that the plot was stolen and patched together from other books. Shakespeare did it; why not Sue Monk Kidd? The things said by To Kill a Mockingbird, Toni Morrison’s books, and even Bastard out of Carolina are worth saying again, and Sue Monk Kidd says them well enough. What’s interesting is that the painful truths of the other books have been turned into the equivalent of a Hollywood movie that purports to be “deep” but really fits better into the “feel good” category. Terrible things happen to the characters, but not too terrible, nothing that would actually offend or shock the reading public (bad enough to empathize with, but not bad enough to destroy the characters’ souls, if you see what I mean–not bad enough to sully the characters). One of the characters dies, but it’s a melodramatic gesture. The bad white father has no redeeming characteristics. The dead mother is blamed for something earth-shattering, but forgiven within thirty pages or so, just long enough to smash a few honeyjars and stomp around a bit. The church the sisters attend is weird, but not weird enough to scare off people who go to “regular” churches. And so on.

That all having been said, I had a hard time putting the book down. I liked the movie Pretty Woman; I like The Secret Life of Bees. I just wanted to point out the popularization of this particular type of pain, how it has moved out of the realm of high literature and into fiction, how it’s become something you can just write about without having the book itself become part of issue. Probably a good thing.

Just Give a Little Whistle

Ray made her first real whistle last night. Ecstatic am I.

Other amusements.

This comes from my brother Matt, a graphic designer and doer of all things newspapery.

RDA Delight

My minimum required daily allowance of delight was met today upon finding out that Lee’s boss (who lives in an apartment) has a pet duck. “Almost as big as a goose,” says one source.

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