Sunday, April 30, 2006

Weekendjacker

We celebrated the end of Brendan's second year by getting up in the wee dawn hours and laying out our dirty laundry on our driveway. It was our first garage sale, a preposterous way to spend a Saturday, I thought.

But the clutter in the attic had hit critical mass for Gene, so on Wednesday when he started bringing it down, I knew he was serious. I shrugged and started sorting the baby clothes. I'd forgotten I'd stored all of Emma's up there, and out of sight, decided that I'd given them away to charity and thus had none to share with my neighbors who between them have three little girls. Egads, I thought looking through the 0 - 3 box. What a waste of good neighborliness.

But of course, the rain we missed for so long presented itself this Friday night in torrents, scaring the fabled early morning garage sale shoppers away. It was 8:00 before we saw our first browser and close to 9:00 before we made our first sale. A-ha, I'd snapped the night before! Let's get rid of all those storage containers in the children's play area. They're basically wire shelves or baskets, through which all manner of tiny barbie shoe or little ball or vital game piece falls, never to be seen for months. I haven't got time. For. The. Pain. Anylonger.

They were the first to sell. We made a cool twenty bucks, if I recall correctly. The rest of the day was a little of this, a little of that. Gene's four routers sold quickly, as did his motorcycle helmet, and that's probably when the universal remote was stolen. A shame. We'd marked it for $7. But all in all we made about $80 and spent ten, when I had the opportunity to scour the neighborhood for children's summer clothing. It was a neighborhood garage sale weekend.

But early in the day, before the kids got up, before our run to Sonic for breakfast burritos and tator tots, Gene and I had the opportunity to sit together musing about no one was showing up. Gene said he should put up a sign that said FREE, and after people got out of their cars, the sign would drop ZE! And we'd hold them to make the big sales pitch. This amused me to no end and I asked complainingly why aren't you funny this way all the time?

I'm a situational comic, he replied.

It was some time after that, but before I'd gotten the sunburn that I realized I'd hit critical mass too. I'd just sold our albeit lousy toy storage, and I couldn't live this week without any, and since it looks so easy to make on our favorite home improvement shows, may I please have six four-foot long toy boxes made of medium density fiberboard? Thanks, let me know how it works out.

I hijacked his Sunday, which means I need to give it back to him in the evenings after work this week so that he can work on his Mustang engine. I also am trying to make myself busy doing chores I'd normally eschew on Sundays, so that he's not the only one working, but I'm running out of things to do, and I can't shake this guilty feeling.

Dinner! Yes, that's it -- a healthy, wholesome affair. I'm off for the planning. Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WSJ editorial page smackdown

Fair point:

The press is also inventing a preposterous double standard that is supposed to help us all distinguish between bad leaks (the Plame name) and virtuous leaks (whatever Ms. McCarthy might have done). Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie has put himself on record as saying Ms. McCarthy should not "come to harm" for helping citizens hold their government accountable. Of the Plame affair, by contrast, the Post's editorial page said her exposure may have been an "egregious abuse of the public trust."

It would appear that the only relevant difference here is whose political ox is being gored, and whether a liberal or conservative journalist was the beneficiary of the leak. That the press sought to hound Robert Novak out of polite society for the Plame disclosure and then rewards Ms. Priest and Mr. Risen with Pulitzers proves the worst that any critic has ever said about media bias.

I certainly haven't noticed anyone in the press trying to get Priest (whose photo reveals her to be extremely telegenic) to give up her source the way people tried to get Novak to give up his in the Plame Game. But perhaps I haven't been watching enough.

As to holding the government accountable for its secret prisons, the European Union has been unable to prove their existence.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Speaking of housewifery

Italian women spend on average 21 non-cooking hours of housework a week($), compared to the four hours a week we filthy Americans spend. I wonder if that number excludes washing dishes? I think it does.

I've never put a number to the hours I spend, but I think it's more than four, and definitely less than 21.
Home alone update
  • five six seven spilled milks
  • 2 toddler time outs
  • 1 over-tired five-year-old, and
  • 1 if-y stomach
It's the spilled milk that gets me. It definitely happens more often than not in times of disruption.
Speaking of television...

Last night's CSI: Miami had Horatio asking the husband of a kidnap victim if his wife had any enemies. "No, she's a homemaker," he replied.

If I'd have been H., I would have then rushed to her grocery store to see whose check-out stand she frequents, asked around her local library to see who gets ticked off the most by her noisy children and finally, gone to her gym to see what members are annoyed by her habit of looking over at their treadmill's stat screen to to compare speeds.

Oh, yes -- we housewives have many enemies!
Turn-off-the-tv week

As Mike Orren put it, "you'll pry my remote from my cold, dead hands." Agreed. If I had to choose between computer and television, I'd choose computer, but why choose when at least right now, I can have both?

The average American woman watches 34 hours a week. I think I watch about 20 hours a week, (gee, that sounded confessional) with a third of that being news (and that sounds defensive).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dada, the kids, Rush and my politics

Dada's gone bye-bye for a few days, so who knows what's in store? I'm hoping a tight schedule will help us get through, but I'm thinking of pulling their bedtimes back to 6:30 for a little me time. That's right, kids, just clear your plates and go straight to bed.

"Me time." I wonder if hearing the words makes old people laugh. Seems a concoction of the 1970's generation and a gimmick for selling women's magazines. Truth is, sometimes I have too much me time and no way to fill it. That's when moms get crazy.

Last week on DH*, Gabriel was nudged out of bed by her husband at some ungodly hour to take care of their wailing newly-adopted infant. She begged him to get up instead, but he refused because he had an interview in the morning and besides, he said, she could nap when the baby naps.

What, she asked, every forty minutes?

Funny to me, at least, but it's true. To have children is to give yourself over to their schedule. Stick to the schedule for eating, sleeping, napping and playtime and they stay pretty happy. Happy kids make for happy parents.

Although. A little adult company would be nice too. Last week my friend who works in advertising sent me an invitation to see Rush Limbaugh speak next month and have drinks afterwards. She'd gotten the invitation through a client. And boy, I thought, dress, shoes, cocktails, adults! I'm not really a fan of Rush, but think of the dress, shoes, cocktails, adults!

She's no fan of him either. In fact, I suspect she'd be miserable at one of his shows considering her politics, which she thinks are opposite mine. Her email noted she was inviting me because I'm the only conservative friend she has.

[Excellent! The pearls are working. It's all going according to plan!]

This cracked up a friend of mine from New York who wondered how well we really know each other. Pretty well, I think, though I turned down this invitation. Far be it from me to drag her into the cauldron of evil so I can have a night out without the kids.

She then offered me a free ticket to a preview of Mission Impossible III. See there? Play your cards right and even if you don't get to talk to adults, you get to watch them goof around on the big screen.

As to what my politics really are ...I like to keep 'em guessing.

* What -- you don't watch Desperate Housewives?
Odd connection

Or perhaps not. Pulitzer-prize winner Dana Priest's husband heads an organization called Center for International Policy. The liberal organization tries to reinstate normal relations with Cuba and of late has an Iraq Policy Information Program. According to this site (via Jonah Goldberg):
Its main job is getting the anti-Bush foreign policy message out to the media and providing guests for talk shows. A featured speaker of the IPIP is former ambassador Joe Wilson, one of the Bush administration’s most vocal enemies.
(Bold added.) It's a small, small, small media/political world after all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quote for the day

It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.


-Mahatma Ghandi

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

...and now the award for revealing top secret information during war time goes to...

James Risen of The New York Times!

Hold your applause, please people. The award for diminishing the Pulitzer awards by at least 20%...goes to...

The Pulitzer Committee! For giving the award for criticism to a fashion writer.

This is not really related to the above, but I'm thinking of organizing a rally of political moderates, thousands of us -- hundreds of thousands! Be afraid, you radicals of the left and right, we're going to be doing a lot of shoulder shrugging and vacillating, so be very, very afraid. Topics of discussion will include:
  • Well, he says one thing, but he says another.
  • I don't know--what do you think?
  • Gosh, she seems upset, and
  • Sigh, I just wish this would all blow over
We'll carry signs! We'll hand out flyers! Nothing will stop us!

Added: My husband thought I sounded like I was making fun of the indecisiveness of the moderate middle. My intention was to illustrate the exasperation of moderates in this very highly polarized political world.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Computer problems, The Jane Austen Book Club and other stuff

The computer problems are over (for now). Hooray for being married to a geek! I finally started reading The Jane Austen Book Club, which I bought about a year and a half ago and put down because I was feeling too delicate to get emotionally involved in anything but myself. Here's an excerpt about Allegra, one of the characters who kept an ant farm as a child:
I made tiny newspapers of ant events, stamp-sized papers at first, then a bit bigger, too big for ants, it distressed me, but I couldn't fit the stories otherwise and I wanted real stories not just lines of something that looked like writing. Anyway, imagine how small an ant paper would really be. Even a stamp would have been like a basketball court.

I imagined political upheavals, plots and coups d'etat, and I reported on them. I think I may have been reading a biography of Mary Queen of Scots at the time....

...Anyway, there was this short news day for the ants. I'd run out of political plots, or I was bored with them. So I got a glass of water and I created a flood. The ants scrambled for safety, swimming for their lives. I was kind of ashamed, but it made good copy. I told myself I was bringing excitement into their usual humdrum. The next day, I dropped a rock on them. It was a meteorite from outer space. They gathered around it and ran up and over it; obviously they didn't know what to do. It prompted three letters to the editor. Eventually I torched them. I was always way too interested in matches. Things got a little out of hand and the fire spread from the anthill into the garden. Only a little, not as bad as that sounds. Diego came and stamped it out, and I remember crying and trying to get him to stop, because he was stepping on my ants.
I can't speak for the second half of the book yet, but I can recommend the first. I should caution, it's a bit of a chick book.

Emma turned five this week and lost her second tooth just two nights before. It's been a week of magic--the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, the birthday troll. "No, Dad!" she said. "There's no such thing as an Birthday troll!"

We had her birthday party at home, per her request. I would have much rather celebrated at one of the ubiquitous retail birthday venues where they are staffed with teens who either lead them in games or let them loose on giant balloon houses, but she did not want to duplicate or triplicate her classmates, so with no knowledge of how to throw a birthday party for ten little girls, I asked around.

"You need to add some games," said my friend Laura. "You'd be surprised at how fast you can finish pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and then have nothing to do." So I added Duck, Duck, Goose and a fishing game in our blow-up pool (which was wildly popular it turned out), to our list which already included Poor Kitty, Musical Chairs and making bracelets out of green elastic and Fruit Loops, but on game day, we still ended up with about 35 extra minutes in the two-hour party.

Messes were made, feelings were hurt, battles were fought and won and otherwise tons of pandemonium, but I think all in all most of the girls had a good time.
Lessons:
  • Children will not mind you.
  • When told a certain game is about to begin, some children will say, "I don't want to play." And they won't.
  • Children will not mind you.
  • Do not offer children choices in beverages or foods.
  • Two hours is too long for a 5-year birthday party.
  • Children will not mind you.
They also started diving into present opening while I was in the other room looking for a piece of paper to write down what came from who. I'll have to ask the moms at pre-school what their daughters brought, making me 15% less perfect in their eyes.


INDC Bill has more thoughts on that angry Left Finkel article. In the comments he has this to say,

I have no illusions about a cadre on the right not being as nutty as the woman described in the piece; but the common leftie blog discourse described in the piece is not some rational reaction to the right; not some evil metamorphosis of a previously benevolent left, brought about by those super-mean Republicans.

And for some reason, in the blogosphere, it seems like the popular lefty blogs really do own about 70% of the real estate in Crazy Town. (the borders of "Crazy Town" usually marked by foamy swearing) I don't have an answer as to why ...

To which I respond,

Yeah, I felt the same way. I don't remember a time when the left lacked an angry fringe side; I wish he'd have put a quote in for Gingrich, to remind us what he said was so hurtful.

I don't really trust Finkel, though. He did a piece on Tom Delay's Texas that really ticked me off a few years ago, basically profiling a family man who loved his truck, his family and Jesus, in that order (with Hooters coming in a close fourth) according to Finkel.

Finkel sure likes to make cartoons out of people. Although, this woman's words speak volumes, I'm sure she has to let go her anger, at least for bathroom breaks.

And now back to some chocolate eggs and my book. Happy Easter!

Oh, no -- wait! I have been writing a little bit. Here's my latest blurb about The Olive Garden. Laugh if you must!

In the national Italian-restaurant conversation, love for The Olive Garden is the love that dare not speak its name. Last night, I had the Ravioli di Portabella--or is it Portobelli in Italian? I’m not sure. It’s a very decent pasta dish in a pink sauce. My husband tried their new Chicken Caprese, a grilled chicken served on a bed of pasta with basil and tomato. I thought it was tasty too, though he prefers the Chicken Castellena.

The thing about this chain restaurant, which sets it above the others, is its interior design. You are not seated in a huge barn-like structure only to have everyone’s conversation amplified from four walls and a ceiling -- and therefore picking up only fifty percent of your dining companion’s conversation. The place is seemingly constructed of several different rooms, so you have the auditory illusion of dining with only four or five other tables. I always want to compliment the architects and designers on that every time we eat there.

One of the great things about living in the Bible belt is that no matter how long the wait for a table, there are always a few seats at the bar to relax over a glass of wine or tea as your taste requires.

I have never found the service to be lacking and as everyone who enters Flower Mound is issued two children at the border, it is a child-friendly restaurant, complete with extra olives in the salad.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

WaPo Watching

David Finkel's back! In a story about left-wing blogosphere anger, the blurb under the front page (online) headline reads,
Maryscott O'Connor and a growing cadre of liberal bloggers are taking inflammatory rhetoric long favored by the right in a new direction.
Huh? And then he proceeds to give examples of only angry left-wing rhetoric and not show any angry right-wing rhetoric. There are radicals on both sides, but I never knew anger was new to the left and old-hat for the right.

Note: Trouble with Blogger and a slow computer today.

Update: Tom Maguire thinks The Post is marginalizing the opposition.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Persona non blogger

I'm currently hiding in a dark corner scratching myself furiously. Check back in a few days. Thanks.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The President takes a leak!

That Just One Minute guy:
when the President authorizes a leak, it is intended to promote his agenda, and is not problematic. Such a leak does *not* signify a divided Administration, and is simply a time-honored news management technique.

Duh.

I now resign my (hopefully temporary) Chairmanship at The Department of the Obvious.

On the other hand, who's to say when he leaks for the clarification of policy or for the political expedience of the evil Rethuglican agenda? Partisans are split!

Friday, April 07, 2006

A what?

I didn't quite catch that.

"
a shocking breach of ethics."

That's what I thought you said.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Infotainment

I did not get far in this Howard Kurtz column before needing to post. Here is another extraordinary example of the networks blurring the line between news and entertainment:
But I was able to confirm that NBC expects Couric to leave "Today," with an announcement expected within days (or maybe hours). The network is so certain that executives have already offered Couric's job to Meredith Vieira, now with "The View" and some show where she gives away up to a million dollars. (Vieira is mulling it over.)
I don't watch Vieira much. I quite recoil from her, actually, though I can't say why. But still! She's a reporter, no wait -- she's a daytime talk show host, no wait -- she's a game show host. Yeah -- that'd be a perfect person to anchor a "news" show.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Insert clever headline here

I hit Craig's List every now and then when I get especially worried about money, or start wondering about career opportunities for when the kids are in school.

Pegasus News, a new Dallas-based online news service, has been listing unpaid positions on Craig's List for quite some time, and I'd been tempted to contact them, but they always seem to want in-house people.

Now Pegasus News is spawning Texas Gigs, and looking for people to write blurbs in their comments section about restaurants and bars. It's mostly a music-driven e-zine, and as I'm tragically unhip and out of the music scene, I can really only help out with the restaurants. Here's what I wrote this weekend about one of my favorite haunts in Grapevine:

The thing I like about Big Fish is that no matter how busy and bustling it is, without exception, two seats at the bar magically open up for my husband and me no matter when we arrive.

Speaking of the bar: Hefeweizen on tap. Impressive, says my husband, but I generally order a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. The popcorn shrimp? Tasty and filling at $4.95, but since we hired a sitter anyway, we stayed for dinner. It was the 8 P.M. hour and the hostess warned of a forty-minute wait; I think we were seated in twenty.

It's a cozy downtown restaurant with about 25 tables. The red brick walls are old, genuine and uncontrived. Last night, two members of Me & Pooch (www.meandpooch.com), were strumming out some light rock on guitar and bass. This could have been the Phat Tire talking, but they were so cute and so sincere and so thirtyish, and the guitarist was so blonde in that John Denver way that I just wanted to take them home and bake them some cookies.

Anyway, I'm not a big fish eater, but a few weeks ago, I about died over my husband's pan-crusted rainbow trout with chipotle honey cream sauce. Last night, he had the crab-stuffed flounder with blackened shrimp cream sauce at $17.90.

I probably bored the cook with an order of the shrimp marinara ($8.99); I liked it better than a similar dish I ordered at Fish City, if that's any help. Do not -- I repeat -- do not order the chocolate cheesecake. You do not deserve it, not if you haven'?t been to the gym this week. No, I take that back. Have the chocolate cheesecake but skip Halloween candy in October. You can'?t do both in one year.

Of course, I had to add a second comment because I meant pecan-crusted rainbow trout, not pan-crusted. Sheesh.

When Pegasus is ready to staff, they may look upon me kindly, but right now they're all about citizen journalism. Free words.

I don't know how to market myself as a freelancer, how much I should ask for, and should a pitch go unanswered, when I should pitch the same article to another magazine. For instance, I wrote a conversational 900-word piece on looking for a gym in my town for a new magazine called Flower Mound Woman, which has this to say on its homepage:

Flower Mound Woman is an informative and interactive forum covering topics women want to hear about, in an easy-to-read magazine format. Flower Mound Woman creates an atmosphere of openness in a resource where all women can learn, live and come together. Meet your neighbors, find common ground and stretch to reach new heights in every area of your life!

Whether itÂ?s from our contributing experts or from peers with firsthand experience, this magazine offers women tips to live their best lives. Imagine the buzz behind 25,000 women coming together to reach their full potential.
Italics added. That's me. I sent you a introductory letter with resume and clips, then my article, and then I called you. Alas, silence. Onward ho, I suppose.