Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 random things

There's this thing going around Facebook, where people write 25 random things about themselves and then get all their friends to do the same thing. Being rather amused by everyone else's lists, I've decided it'd make a darn fine blog post, too.

  1. River Phoenix was my first major movie star crush.
  2. The Brothers Karamazov is my favorite book of all time.
  3. I drink pickle juice. Straight from the jar.
  4. I'm fully aware that's disgusting.
  5. I met my husband when we were both in costume.
  6. It wasn't Halloween.
  7. My favorite movies of all time are Godfather I and II and Casablanca.
  8. I wish I could have gone to Hogwarts.
  9. I probably would have been good at potions.
  10. I would not have made the quidditch team.
  11. My beautiful little Bug makes me smile a dozen times a day. No... way more than that.
  12. I'm glad she has my dimples.
  13. I'm also glad she has Joker's eyes.
  14. I call my grandma a few times a week.
  15. She thanks me for it, but she deserves the "thanks."
  16. The most amazing historical site I have visited was the 10th Century Moorish castle in Sintra, Portugal.
  17. The best scuba diving I have done was in Rangiroa, French Polynesia.
  18. I've eaten blowfish, frog's legs, and Rocky Mountain Oysters.
  19. I thought Eddie and the Cruisers was the name of a band until I was in college. I saw John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band play Toad's Place, and asked a friend if they played anything but Eddie and the Cruisers covers.
  20. I got engaged on an island in Sweden.
  21. I walked down the aisle to "Here Comes the Sun."
  22. I hope the Bug uses her passport well.
  23. She may need to when she lives at home and goes to Yale, as per my current plan.
  24. Season 4 of Buffy was my least favorite, but it contained two of the best episodes: "Hush" and "Restless."
  25. I've written a blog since August 2007. This is post #235.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ending wage discrimination

Last April, I posted about the Republican Congress blocking legislation that would make it less difficult to sue an employer for pay discrimination. Rather than being incensed that men and women are sometimes compensated unequally for the same work, their outrageous position was, and remains, that it will lead to frivolous lawsuits. They essentially that argued that discrimination was OK, so long as it was kept a secret for the first six months.

Under the new leadership of the Democrats, Congress passed this legislation yesterday, and Obama is expected to sign it into law this week. In addition, Congress passed a second bill that strengthens current laws against pay discrimination.

It is about time that this has happened. Gender-based pay discrimination continues to exist. Women make an average of $0.78 to men's $1.00. It's hard to find out when such discrimination is taking place, and there are very few avenues of retribution other than the court system. My advice to any business that is worried about being sued: "Don't discriminate."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Portrait of the blogger as a young girl

To continue in my mission to share my formative years, I give you Angie, October 1979, as conceived by Angie:

I cannot explain the two chairs I have as props, but please note the nicely formed nose and ears.

For good measure, here's the portrait I drew of my sister Jessie. Something tells me I found her to be a bit noisy.

Lest you think we were a couple of armless freakazoids, here's what we really looked like:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Music for hipster toddlers

Since the Bug loves to dance, we spend a lot of time playing music that she enjoys. It's fun to watch her, and we love to dance, too! Given the sheer volume of music we play, it was imperative that we move away from exclusively playing Laurie Berkner and Sesame Street. We've actually found some awesome kids' CDs that we really enjoy!

Sing Along with Putumayo leads the pack. We have at least half a dozen other albums from the Putumayo label, which brings the music of the world to the masses. From the Cajun sounds of New Orleans to the cool beats of the Sahara, we love 'em. This Putumayo Kids album is a collection of classic American folk and blues, performed by Arlo Guthrie, Keb' Mo', and many more. Do your ears - and your dancing shoes - a favor and get it.

The Barenaked Ladies released Snacktime! last year upon realizing that there were more prodigy between the band members than there were members themselves. My personal fave is "Crazy ABCs" which pairs each letter with a word that doesn't sound *quite* right. (A is for aisle, P is for pterodactyl... you get the idea.)

They Might Be Giants have three kids albums. We've got Here Come the ABCs and Here Come the 1-2-3s. Both are filled with fun songs, and are packaged with DVDs for those car rides when you can't bear to listen to any more Dora.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Do the walk of life

The latest Facebook trend, at least among my friends, is for people to post pictures of themselves in the height of fashion disaster. Among other things, this has convinced me that if you stacked up all the hair from 1993 New Jersey, you would not need a spaceship to get to the moon.

Rather than jumping in with both feet and sharing my 1993 perm, I decided to set the stage. Provide context. From no hair to big hair, so to speak.

So without further ado, here's Angie at 1 year. Note the shiny locks of golden hair. No wait, that's the flash reflecting on my noggin.

And, because I couldn't decide which of these to share, here's me nine months later (about the age the Bug is now). The alert reader will notice that the Bug wore this dress in last year's Christmas card picture, when she was more than a year younger than I am here. I was apparently a shrimp. On the plus side, note the fuzzy sprigs of hair finally coming in around my ears.
Anyone else want in? Lemme know!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Advice for Obama

In perhaps a stark contrast to my interest in the obits, my absolute favorite newspaper feature is the annual "Letters to Santa" carried by virtually every local paper in the country. For those of you who share my interest, you've got an extra treat this year. The Times today included a selection of kids' letters suggesting to Obama what he should do first, as well as 14 Presidential portraits (the most interesting of which has two ears but only one eye). The entire selection can be found by clicking here, but one of my favorites is below for your instant gratification.

Dear President Obama,
Here is a list of the first 10 things you should do as president:

1. Fly to the White House in a helicopter.
2. Walk in.
3. Wipe feet.
4. Walk to the Oval Office.
5. Sit down in a chair.
6. Put hand-sanitizer on hands.
7. Enjoy moment.
8. Get up.
9. Get in car.
10. Go to the dog pound.

— Chandler Browne, age 12, Chicago

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lost in the City

I haven't read too many short stories, aside from the occasional New Yorker selection, and I have never before picked up a collection to read. I bought Lost in the City simply because Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer winner for his outstanding The Known World, hasn't written any other novels. I ended up having to read it at home rather than on the train, because reading more than one tale in a sitting didn't give the stories the focus they demanded. Every story deserves to be individually digested and thought about.

Lost in the City is comprised of 14 stories, ranging in quality from good to excellent. Together they illustrate the often ordinary, sometimes extraordinary, times in the lives of African Americans in Washington, DC. These characters are each striving to maintain a sense of hope and community in their fractured existences.

The best story in the book, perhaps the best modern story I have read, is "The Store." This tale follows an irresponsible young man who, through a job in a bodega over the course of several years, learns responsibility, learns the value of people, and gains an understanding of his place in the world. It is so poignant in its detail, so emotionally insightful, it earns Jones a place among the best contemporary storytellers.

The last tale in the book, "Marie," is another highlight. It follows an elderly woman who worries that her Social Security payments are in danger, particularly after she slaps a condescending receptionist in the office. A knock at her door leads to a chance meeting with a Howard student who then records her telling her own life story. It is powerful and emotional, and the fitting end to this wonderful book.

Lost in the City is enjoyable for short story connoisseurs, as well as for the uninitiated. And if you haven't read The Known World, you should check it out as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The passing of the sculptor

It may or may not be apparent based on some of the topics I write about, but I read the obituaries every day. I enjoy reading life stories, whether about the early conquerors of Mt. Everest, to the inventor of the TV dinner, to unheralded heroes in the civil rights movement.

Today I learned about the passing of Coosje van Bruggen, who you've probably never heard of. She collaborated with Claes Oldenburg on more than 40 sculptures, including "Spoonbridge and Cherry" in Minneapolis of which I posted a postcard photo in July. You can check out all of their works on their website by clicking here - they're really impressive! I've only had the pleasure to see a few of them in person, but I will certainly keep my eyes peeled going forward.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Brooklyn Follies

I have had the excellent fortune to have read several great books in a row - lucky me! I chose The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster having only read his phenomenal New York Trilogy years ago. I had subsequently seen him do a reading at my old bookstore, remembered being very impressed, and picked up this enjoyable novel over the holidays.

The tone of this book is drastically different from that of New York Trilogy. It is lighthearted and funny, rather than Auster's more typical intellectual and dark style. The protagonist is 59-year-old Nathan Glass, a divorced, retired lung cancer survivor who moves to Brooklyn in search of a quiet place to live out the rest of his days. To fill his time, Nathan decides to compile "The Book of Human Folly", a record of every funny anecdote that he can recall. Due to a series of crazy, random happenstances, however, Nathan's days in Brooklyn are far from lazy.

At the used book store he frequents, Nathan is first reunited with his nephew Tom, who's also struggling to find purpose in his life. Nathan and Tom quickly reestablish their bond, becoming great friends who share a love of literature. Enter 9-year-old Lucy, the intentionally mute daughter of Tom's sister Aurora, arriving on a bus from "Carolina Carolina" with neither money nor information of her missing mother. The three of them set off on a road trip to Vermont, which is derailed when their car breaks down, setting in motion yet another round of coincidences.

While The Brooklyn Follies is not going down in the annals of contemporary literature masterpieces, it is an exceedingly fun book to read. Auster's word selection, his use of dialogue, and his deeply crafted cast of characters make every page a pleasure to read. The plot is fast-paced and entertaining. Auster is insightful and poignant in his observations, which evoke a range of emotions from tenderness to hilarity. I'd highly recommend it to just about anyone.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A request for your support

My sister is an old pro in the world of political and non-profit fund-raising. I am not, but am diving in head first, and this is my first shameless plea for help. Joker and I give to a number of non-profits that are meaningful to us. We also donate to friends' organizations whenever we are asked. If someone cares enough about something to work for it, then we are happy to be supportive of that effort. We even donated to one friend who, in a quest to get into a particular marathon, threw his efforts behind a non-profit he knew and cared next to nothing about.

NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut is in the midst of a fundraising drive, and this time I am asking you to consider supporting me, in an organization I am working hard for and am passionate about. NPCC is reviving a strong pro-choice climate in Connecticut, broadening our conversations with the state legislature to include prevention, access to reproductive health services, and ethnic and racial inequities in care. We were instrumental in securing pro-choice election victories in critical districts in the state, and we are key partners in a coalition to support Healthy Teens education in the state legislature, something I was surprised to learn would not be a slam-dunk.

Having a pro-choice President in office is not an excuse for complacency. I know that the economy stinks, and I know that it may not be in the cards right now, but please give it your consideration. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, either here on the blog or by emailing me directly.

You can donate online by clicking on this link. All donations made to NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, Inc are not tax deductible and support our political work. All donations made to the NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut Foundation
are tax deductible and support our education, research, and outreach work.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear, sweet Facebook

Twenty-four hours ago, I threw up my hands in despair. How, oh how, would I find my missing stylist? The answer was simple. Facebook. With 150 million active users, half of them on daily, how could that not have been obvious?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Major hair disaster

I'm overdue for a haircut. WAY overdue. With no end in sight.

I finally called my salon yesterday to make an appointment. And to my horror I was told that Sheridan has left, but that they would be happy to recommend someone else. Sheridan has been cutting my hair since the beginning of the '00s! I don't want them to recommend someone else. I want them to give me her forwarding information. Which, as yet, they won't do. Sheridan gave me her cell phone number years ago, but it is (best case) in my old Rolodex in a box in storage. Any other suggestions on how to find her??? If I cannot, am I doomed to a future of Crystal Gayle's hair???

Monday, January 5, 2009

She just wants to help

The Bug has gotten very into helping out around the house, and it is totally adorable. For months now, whenever I drop something from the dryer she picks it up and trots behind me to where I'm folding. She feeds Buffy and Sirius and gives them treats. Over the holidays, she started to help set the table - she'll take the items from the kitchen and bring them to Daddy at the table. She loves doing it; as soon as I mention it's time to set the table, she runs to the lazy susan and grabs the salt and pepper. I have to admire the slightly OCD attention to detail she brings to her work. The other morning while Joker was in the other room, I asked the Bug to bring the stuff out. When I checked on her progress, I saw that all the regular silverware was on the big table, and her fork alone was on her highchair tray.

We took down Christmas on Saturday night, and carried out the tree yesterday. The Bug was running around where the tree was, and was quite dismayed when the needles stuck to her feet. I apologized to her, "Sorry, Bug, but the floor is pretty grubby right now," and returned to boxing stuff up. Thirty seconds later, the Bug was back in the middle of things, carrying our giant broom to clean up the mess.