Monday, April 30, 2007

Timmy is the one who likes pink.

So, whenever Romancing the Stone went to commerical or a mushy part, I flipped over to Pretty In Pink, after checking how the Sabres were doin'. It was on twice, you know how they show them back-to-back on Sunday afternoons, so we caught the second showing almost from the beginning.

And, gosh, I racked my brain over the bit part players as I always do.

I could not place Steff.

Sure, I got Dice Clay and, with some help, saw Margaret Colin from ID4. But, even looking at Spader's filmography - his name is generic enough - was no help because I have never watched "Boston Legal" or "The Practice" or "Seinfeld". 'Though I s'pose those legal type roles should have been a hint.

More pictures, more pictures, I hunted for more pictures and found one in the comments section that clinched it. Not the picture, per se, but the caption, Secretary.

Oh, yes, that quiet, little, scary show Secretary. I couldn't watch the whole thing, after he started spanking her. Jeff said they married. I seriously doubted he was a real lawyer but I guess I was wrong. She had my sympathy.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Eastern Conference, choice of two favorites:

#1 Sabres vs. #6 Rangers

#2 Devils vs. #4 Senators
"No. Pretzel Wagon's no longer... 300 pretzels?! Wait! Wait! Let me get this down. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Meat Packer's Union Hall, Batavia, New York. I'll send them right out!"
We watched this ten year old Simpsons episode last night and Jeff chuckled, "Meat Packer's Union Hall?!"

Well, we were at the fire hall the previous weekend. ("If you hold extended family gatherings in a fire hall, you just might be a redneck.")

I speculate that they chose Batavia, not for Jimmy Hoffa, but for the Masonic scandal, an earlier missing persons case.

Jeff said, "Hm, is there a Mason among the writers? You know, they have that Stonecutters Lodge." Seems the most obvious Mason ... is Jackie. Oy.

1 "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson," The Simpsons Archive.
I know I did:

"Millstone voters say no, no, no and no" - Examiner, 4/26/07

My kids accompanied me to vote in their private school uniforms, not a welcome sight, I'm sure. A couple of things were not explained and might have passed if they had been.
The previous referendum paid for the room, the furniture, and the hardware, software and curriculum, but no teacher.

The question would have added .56 cent to the tax rate but would have replaced current textbooks that are between 10 and 12 years old and are no longer in print.
Then again, voters may think it sneaky to split the applied technology referendum in two. They'll find a use for the room and equipment, I'm sure. Heck, my kids' school has a librarian who's a volunteer. (No, it's not me ... but I would do it!)

And 10 year old language arts books? Voters may well ask how much does American English change in a decade anyway. Besides, everything is math, science and technology. No one wants to spend money on learning a native language. That's like teaching fish to swim.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Our bedroom.

I can explain.

The ceiling was vaulted asymmetrically, like unsightly to the max.

Rather than repeat the architectural abomination in the new, adjacent room that continues the ceiling line, we decided to drop the second half of the existing ceiling down symmetrically. Then we can place a beam along the center peak and install an overhead ceiling fan.

So, the ceiling needs finishing. The far wall needs replacement with a double pocket door to the new room. The floor needs new carpet and painting. And they are redoing the duct work to hook up to the new, upstairs hvac unit.

But, I'm strangely optimistic that this may be the first room that's ready for us to return to. Maybe in a month.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

From Brad Harvey's Leave Your Head At The Door:
"I never dreamed that the Roman religion was true; but I knew that its accusers, for some reason or other, were curiously inaccurate". --G. K. Chesterton
When I googled the quote, I found this pleasant piece at the American Chesterton Society: "The Catholic Church and Conversion".
Where's Moonshadow been?

Not to London. Not even London, ON.

We took the kids to Niagara Falls for the first time on the 50th anniversary of their grandparents' honeymoon.

For late April, the weather was remarkably balmy. It was hard to take a bad picture.

Still, the river carried a steady stream of ice chunks because, as I understood from local news coverage, Lake Erie remains quite icy.

We used TomTom to get there. That is a nice feature of a GPS: not only getting to a destination but providing reliable navigation to attractions while out-of-town.

Kenny was struck by the vast array of power lines visible along our travel route. We reminded him of the role Niagara Falls plays in generating electrical power for the surrounding area.

While there, I also had to remind Kenny that visitors come from around the world to see the Falls and that, as an American, he is representing his country. So, I encouraged him to be polite to those around him and especially to avoid walking in front of those taking pictures.
OK, OK, we've had the new TiVo for two months now and I AM ADDICTED TO HD!

Seriously, the image is so dang crisp even when watching a recorded program.

Now the local news station is broadcasting in HD, and I never fail to watch.

The ability to record two programs at once means Kenny doesn't cancel the 6 o'clock news as in the past because it conflicted with his "funny shows" (read: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).

Shows sit on the "to be deleted" queue for weeks! The disk capacity is enormous, allowing me to set a season pass for one of my favorite shows! (Not that I have time to watch it.) Between the kids' programs and Jeff's "must-sees", there wasn't room for my picks on the older model. The KidZone and TiVo Desktop work perfectly, too.

The only problem is that the decoder cards provided by the cable company fail authentication over time and need to be reset. That is, the TiVo system requires a restart.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Jeff cleared out the kitchen cabinets before we left for the weekend. They knocked down the wall in our absence.

The windows are delayed until Thursday. So we are boarded up until then.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I had Ella's three month picture taken at a studio on Monday.

The wrong day to go to Trenton. But that's where the studio is.

It took 45 minutes to drive four miles along Quakerbridge Mall Road because Route 1 traffic was being rerouted due to flooding. Several of the mall stores weren't open when I arrived at 10:30, half an hour late for my appointment.

The photos are washed out, just like the roads. That's the type of work they do at the Picture People. But it's a tradition with all the kids: washed out baby pictures. At six months, we go with a real photographer in the home. Can't wait.
My little brother ran the Columbus Half-Marathon last weekend and emailed me his results. He did quite well and I called to congratulate him. But he wasn't home from work yet and I spoke with his wife.

I mentioned the Corzine case and she asked, "Isn't that the one about the governor who drove drunk and wasn't wearing his seat belt?" I know it's hard to keep all these sensational stories straight.

Just wondered how it was playing, in "the heart of it all!"
Our master bath.

Actually, it doesn't look like this anymore.

The wall on the right has been knocked down and the room is now twice as large.

The plumber comes next week. I lose the kitchen this weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Preserving rural Millstone and the families within it" - Letter to the Editor, Examiner, 04/12/07
It occurs to me that the families who have been here for many generations represent a unique and irreplaceable facet of life here, and that we newcomers owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us.

While we all share the admirable goal of preserving the rural character of Millstone and the surrounding area, open fields and stands of trees are only one element of that quality. It seems to me that an equally important aspect of the nature of any community is found in the people who reside within it. The old-line families, based on their singular knowledge and perspective of what a rural Millstone really was, represent a great resource in helping to guide Millstone into the future.
We need a book like this right now:

"Pope's new book plugs 'real Jesus'" -, 4/13/07

not because of the Da Vinci Code, but because of those liberal historical quests:
For over a century, Biblical scholars have used new critical analytical methods and newly found documents such as the Dead Sea Scrolls to portray Jesus as more human than divine.

"The innumerable fanciful images of Jesus as a revolutionary, as a timid social reformer, as the secret lover of Mary Magdalene, can be put to rest ..."
Personae so tired, only the scandalized still sustain such.
The [Pope's] book was based on "the solid, historical credibility of the Gospels."
Forgive me, but this was my impression all along:

"Martin: Imus' attack mostly sexist, not racist" -, 4/13/07.

If I know the slang at all, I know it from the book1 and the HBO program.

Frankly, upon first hearing of the show and the book some years ago, I suspected that the expression was derogatory. I was surprised that it would be used in the context of young children. I thought use of the language was a strategic attempt to defuse it, to rob it of its harmful effect.

Basically, without having read the book or seen the show, I came to intuit the expression as one of "celebration," a celebration of diversity. But, apparently, the expression is genuinely pejorative and, thankfully, I never adopted it into my vocabulary because I would have to unlearn it now.

I'm not really up on my paleoanthropology but the Out-of-Africa model still holds sway, doesn't it? I mean, ultimately, you can't insult another person without in some way insulting yourself.

But I long for the day when the word "bully" invokes as much opposition as the word "racist".

1 Controversy over the book
Our roads are dangerous and they don't discriminate:
"The crash occurred around 6 p.m. while Corzine was en route from Atlantic City to the governor's mansion in Princeton to moderate a meeting between the Rutgers women's basketball team and radio personality Don Imus."
Here's an interesting fact:
"Corzine was the third straight New Jersey governor to break a leg while in office. James E. McGreevey broke his left leg in 2002 during a nighttime walk on the beach, and Christie Whitman broke her right leg while skiing in the Swiss Alps in 1999."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jeff is the one who buys the wine but he hasn't gone grocery shopping for me lately. I wanted wine for Easter dinner, so I had a bash. And I bombed.

Well, what happened was this: another patron followed me very closely into the Wegman's wine cellar and set me off my nut. The buggyless shopper seemed anxious and frustrated by my inability to get the hell out of his way. I was trying my damnedest to "pick a lane," but the cellar aisles are narrow and he seemed to be at once on my right shoulder and then on my left. Halfway through the package store, my male tail left off and I found myself in the kosher section.

Our Holy Land guide had warned us about the immaturity of Israeli wines1 but claimed that the harvest improves every year. It's been eight years so, taking a chance, I picked up a bottle of white Riesling. We like it better than a chardonnay these days. The price was relatively high ... which I took as a good sign ... probably due to being an import.

And we had the kosher wine with our baked ham Easter dinner and we gave the customary toast "Next year in Jerusalem" and found the taste a little strong. And discovered that the alcohol content was twice what we are used to. So, yeah, Easter dinner got me a little buzzed. It's been a while.

1 The tour schedule had us at the Golan Heights winery first thing one morning, shocking the sensibilities of our older companions. But, after adjusting for the time difference, it was just like a late night out! As I remember, nearly everyone tasted a sample or two.
"Coyote Attacks 20-Month-Old Boy in Middletown, NJ" - WCBS, 4/9/07:
The coyote may also be responsible for the disappearance of several dogs and cats in the area.

A Yorkshire terrier was recently snatched right in front of its owner.
The best was saved for last in this CNN program, What Would Jesus Really Do: a discussion with Cardinal McCarrick and Rabbi Boteach about the impact of a married Jesus, a.k.a. the Da Vinci Code, on the Christian faithful.

Even with the clumsy, obvious editing cuts - both clerics had much to say - the exchange reveals interesting perceptions of Catholicism and Christianity, not just from the guests but also by the host who had a vested interest in seeing the Christian faith properly apprehended.

Previous program segments were politically oriented, discussing whether Jesus was a Republican or a Democrat (T. D. Jakes and Paula White), whether he would focus solely on the abortion issue or have a wider agenda (Rick Warren), whether he would support the war (Jerry Falwell). And, the usual cast of evangelical characters was rounded out with a Catholic and a Jew addressing the Da Vinci threat to the practice of Catholicism.

The rabbi's observation, that Jesus' humanity isn't emphasized sufficiently in Christianity, is rightly applicable here and there, from time to time, in instances when the tradition is less than fully expressed. The Christian theologian's delicate task was once described to me as somewhat akin to that of a circus plate spinner because of the many necessary dimensions that must be simultaneously upheld and affirmed to avoid subtle theological pitfalls.

At least three times, the cardinal invited the rabbi to Mass and even invited him to preach from the pulpit, his way of encouraging him to learn what Catholics believe about Jesus and to say that there is agreement on Jesus' humanity. To the rest, he advocated reading the Gospels to discover Jesus' identity and message and to find Jesus in church.

The YouTube video quality is not refined enough to show the most important aspect of the two guests, their respective countenance which were radiant and peaceful. Cardinal McCarrick had that completely relaxed look that one often sees among the retired. See for yourself.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Things have slowed since the framers finished two weeks ago, hung up on windows.

The contractor called just before lunchtime. He has something else to do and we won't see him until tomorrow. That's fine, you know, but when he guts my kitchen, he better be on site every frickin' day until it's usable.

The plumber is expected to begin work in the kitchen in two weeks. That probably depends more on the plumber's schedule than the project's. There are a million other things that could be done before the kitchen. We haven't ordered anything. In fact, we don't even really have a final design yet. This may be their way of forcing a design.

I was in town on Saturday, waiting in line at a deli, when a stranger asked me about the construction. It's funny how that works, a big project makes an ordinary house stand out. It puts the house ... and its owners ... on the map, as it were. And in a quiet little town, it's something to talk about.

But my new stranger-friend wanted to know only one thing: how much the project was costing us and whether he could afford the same type of expansion. Even in this world of keeping up with the Joneses, I felt the first question was none of his business. So I gave a "non-answer answer". As to the second question, only he could judge that because I didn't have enough information. He drove a GMC Acadia - just his "weekend car"? He has two pre-teenaged kids whose athetic teams he coaches.

Everybody would like to add on. Not everybody has the room to do so. Frankly, not everyone has the need. My stranger-friend figured that out. "I'm always telling my wife when she says she'd like to add on, 'You know, these kids will be out of the house in another eight years.' Then we're left with this big house." With all their activites, they are probably out of the house quite often already.

The time is right for us on this now. Actually, we're a little behind but I don't think that's our fault. I mean, I need my new laundry room now!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Jeff took the outdoor pictures and I took the indoor ones.

They have eaten all of the candy and almost all of the eggs.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Latecomers appear bewildered at the sight of us outdoors.

Curiously, they continue inside, only to discover a darkened nave, coats and handbags in nearly every pew. Where to sit? Better head back outside.

I didn't take a taper because I had Ella in a wearable infant carrier. And she was bundled for the wind. The thermometer in the car registered 34° F at 10PM.

The readings were Gen. 1:1 - 2:2, Gen. 22:1-18, Ex. 14:15-15:1, Is 55:1-11, Ez. 36:16-17a, 18-28, Romans 6:3-11 and the Gospel was from Luke 24:1-12. All the reading selections are here.

Our deacon is M.I.A. so a female cantor sang the Exsultet but it wasn't perfect. And the inclusive language bothered me. She said "Creator" for "Father".

Only three candidates for confirmation. Obviously all three already baptized Catholic. So, no thrilling baptisms ... must wait until next Sunday for that.

It's just as well staying local this night.

St. Greg's has a new pastor and I'm sure he's nothing like Fr. Rich. I didn't lose my voice this year singing (last year's experience), that's for sure. But I had the cry room to myself for the most part. And said a prayer for Matt ... mazel tov!

Friday, April 06, 2007

A while back, A Hard Day's Night was on, so I made the boys watch it. The "bit in the field" wasn't as funny to me as I remember but they enjoyed it. They liked the police station stuff near the end.

Then an old show on VH1, Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story aired but we only watched a segment because it's so awful. Kenny asked, "Is this the Beatles?" No, no, noooo, it's not. But I spent a day as a kid watching original episodes on MTV. And I attended their reunion tour show in the mid-80s. I still like most of their songs.

Just this morning, the kids watched that episode of The Simpsons about Homer's barbershop quartet1, the Be Sharps. Jeff's like, "This episode is almost fifteen years old!" Is it? "Yeah, they say 'Eight years ago in 1985!'" Whew.

And the kids don't get the gags, of course, being familiar neither with The Beatles nor with mid-80's culture. Kenny appreciated "flashback" when he pointed out to us Lisa as a baby. Yes, good eye. The show is enjoyable without getting all the jokes. I imagine that I don't necessarily get all the jokes. But it is better if you get them. Gosh, even putting Apu in the group makes sense. The parallels are so clever.

1 I find myself turning to Wiki instead of imdb, even for movies, probably because of wiki's external links.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rutgers Falls in National Championship Game to Tennessee, 59-46 press release, 4/3/07:
The victory gave the Lady Vols (34-3) their seventh NCAA Women's Basketball Championship all-time, and ended the championship dream of the Scarlet Knights (27-9), who were appearing in their first-ever championship contest.

Despite the loss, Scarlet Knights still enjoyed one of their top seasons in history. The Scarlet Knights rebounded from a 2-4 start to win 25 of their last 30 games, including the BIG EAST tourney title and the NCAA Greensboro Region championship.
The Empire State Building was lit up red in honor.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The 11 o'clock news covered Giuliani in Iowa. Scroll down.

Imagine Giuliani outside of New York? We couldn't. Giuliani is so New York, 9/11 or not.

In fact, comments caught on videotape during his walking tour of Cedar Rapids made it clear that you can't take the City out of the New Yorker.

Rudy glimpsed reminders of "home" all around him and replies to WNBC reporter Jay DeDapper's question "Does this remind you of anyplace, Sir?":
"It reminds me of parts of Queens, doesn't it? It has a real feel. Even to a lesser extent, some parts of Brooklyn."
A breezy version is also at YouTube, second 23 and following.

Of course, I'm always seeing parts of Basom around New Jersey.
"Millstone taxpayers could see $800 increase" - Examiner, 3/29/07
The tax impact equates to $1,980 for every $100,000 of assessed value, meaning that a resident with a home assessed at the township's average of $397,331 would pay $7,867 per year in taxes to support the proposed budget.

The second question on the ballot will ask voters to approve a full-day kindergarten program.

The third question on the ballot will ask voters to approve the addition of an applied technology teacher.

The fourth question will ask voters to approve the purchase of language arts textbooks.
I'll be doing my best imitation of Empress Nympho from History of the World, Part I:

"No, no, no, no, no, no ..."

I won't be saying yes!

Monday, April 02, 2007

I heard a few minutes of the interview with Sacha Baron Cohen on Fresh Air Friday afternoon. Some of his comments disturbed me. I haven't seen the movie Borat. I hadn't any intention of seeing it. The interview didn't change my mind.

I just listened to the entire interview and I don't know whether I feel any better.

I guess I'm wondering what sort of person engages in discourse with the deliberate purpose of revealing the prejudices of other people. Now, I guess the entire movie isn't about this, a crusade or inquisition across America or just the South, to draw out these bigoted sentiments. There's other segments, equally edifying I suppose, about sex.

Perhaps I am all for letting sleeping dogs lie.

We've all seen Gentleman's Agreement. A superb movie. Only Gregory Peck could do it. He has such integrity. Too hypothetical for you? Need some reality TV? Fiction isn't real enough? Balderdash. We are capable of learning from fiction ... and no humans were harmed during the making of that film. PETA would be proud.

Whenever I encounter some incriminating tidbit that's submitted ever so matter-'o-factly to incense me - say, like the charge that the leader of another country is killing his own citizens - I try to fit it into familiar terms so that I can understand it - the death penalty is legal in how many US states? Same with this Borat phenomenon. For the sake of argument, let's pretend that anti-Catholicism rivals anti-Semitism in my social circle. Would I go in, baiting people, asking about the Pope's funny hat or Sister Mary Margaret's ruler?

I suppose the saving grace is that Cohen moves among strangers. Would he show as much heart around his close friends (remember Gentleman's Agreement, poor Kathy, what a disappointment she was)? Would he really want to know?

I don't think that any of us would be happy to know that our friends and acquaintances are uncomfortable about this or that. Think the best of others. I guess that's what bothers me, he's thinking the worst. Sure, he isn't disappointed, but he ought to be.

I tried to talk with Jeff about this interview but the kids were still up and he said it wasn't an appropriate time to talk about it.

Besides, he was trying to watch Family Guy, one of the worst shows on TV. And, at that very moment, Peter mentioned a trip to Las Vegas to see the "Jew Man Group". I just rolled my eyes at Jeff: the kids can watch this but I can't talk about something intelligent? Visual images make a greater impact on young minds than adult conversation.

Just a quote or two from the interview. I hope I don't get in trouble. Just remember, y'all borrowed one of Jeff's photographs for your Talk of the Nation blog. Fair use. Fair use.

This is Cohen talking about what influences his character, Borat:
"I think Borat’s impression of Jews is really, you know, has its origins in the medieval ages, you know. So, his Jew has horns, you know. It is that kind of medieval, anti-Semitic portrayal of, you know, this, eh, demonic creature."
I gotta hand it to him, he pronounces "anti-Semitic" properly. Not too long ago someone corrected his host. It's a word often heard on NPR.

I actually agree with this statement:
"The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference. Indifference is actually quite dangerous."
For I generally find that my reaction to anti-Catholicism is indifference. Like, uh, so what, who cares? It reflects poorly on the bloke who uttered it, can't you all see that?

And then the host says this kiss-up thing:
"I’m bracing myself for all of these people who aren’t nearly as talented as you are, taking the baton and kind of taking their characters into the real world and being a real nuisance.
Sometimes the snootiness of public radio grates on my fragile, mediocre sensibilities.

But, I'll tell ya what: if I want Ella to fall asleep, I just turn on NPR. Especially when Gottlieb is on, bless him ... she drifts right off ... now that's a public service!

There's a new church in town ...

I saw the ad in last week's paper ... it's very eye-catching. And why not? The pastor runs a marketing company on the side. See also.

Seriously. The church and his company share a P.O. box.

The pastor also seems to be an inventor:
the creator of 'The Success-ercisE Exercise & Personal Motivation System', is recognized as one of the leading experts on how people can use the physiological and emotional benefits of physical activity to achieve personal, business and fitness success.
Read the whole blurb and note that the photo there is the same as the photo here.

Among the sermon recordings, there's an address to the Campus Crusade group at Brookdale.

The wife is a make-up artist.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Room and board can cost as much as tuition and money was tight, so I roomed with three strangers my freshman year. We girls came from across the state: Medford, Oswego, Honeoye Falls and me. By April, we knew each other fairly well. The later spring troubles and fallings out among us had yet to occur.

They had ceased attending classes, having all found suitable engineer boyfriends to marry.

For my part, I was still reeling from the blow to my pride caused by sleeping through a month of British History the previous fall, including missing an exam. Even though I earned a "B" - my self-taught knowledge of the subject saved me - I was striving for my one and only 4.0 semester that spring.

Towards that end, I continued getting out early each morning, while they lingered in bed. The sleepyheads.

Still, I wasn't too serious for pranks. In fact, I considered myself clever, 'though I can't remember how I pranked them that first and only April Fool's Day together.

I merely remember how they retaliated.

Being away from the dorm room all day left me wide-open to their turning of the tables upon my return. They knew my habits and I never saw it coming.

They put lemon juice in my water bottle in the li'l fridge. They booby-trapped my closet so things fell out when I opened the door. They removed the bulb from my desk lamp.

It was fair. It was alright. But I'm not much of a prankster these days. They cured me of that.

The best, as I remember, was what they did to the girl from Honeoye Falls:

She was always using this Paul Mitchell freeze spray product to poof up her limp blond hair. It was a habit with her, like smoking. The other two dumped out the spray and filled the bottle with water. Imagine her frustration over her limp hair.

But, then, the girls spilled the reserved spray! And couldn't replace it when the time came. They asked me, "Do you know how expensive that stuff is?!" No, I had never heard of Paul Mitchell products before. They were forced to apologize to her.