Sunday, January 30, 2011

Turn Off Fox

I got this sticker in the mail today from an organization called Color of Change.  I'm making it into fliers to leave in restaurants, bars and other public places that have Fox News on the TV before I take my business elsewhere.  Fortunately, not many places in New York City will put Fox on the bar TV unless it's for some ball game or another.  I have a feeling I'll be leaving behind a shit ton of these when I'm in Texas for Spring Break.  I just sent a copy to my mother, though.  She and a couple of neighbors will paper the town.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Disturbance in the Force

There's been a disturbance in the force at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters.  A couple of weeks ago, I refused to give money to the Democrats for the first time in my life.  It all started with a simple phone call.  I thought it was a friend calling me back, but it was The Democrats asking for money.

When the caller, who seemed to be a nice older woman, asked if I was available I realized there was a telemarketer on the line and said I was out of town.  Those paid telemarketers usually hang up when you tell them you're not home, but this sincerely determined volunteer launched into her script anyway.  She identified herself as a Democrat and said they were reaching out to all strong Democrats because this year in Congress will be tougher than ever.  I listened politely, since I did answer the phone after all, and the truth is that I've been giving money to the Democrats for years. Sometimes I vote for the Green or Working Families candidate, but I practically qualify as a Yellowdog Democrat - a term that originated in the 19th Century defining people who vote for the Democrat even if the Democrats run a Yellow Dog. 

I was just starting to feel guilty about not giving the Democrats another penny when she asked, "Do you consider yourself a strong Democrat?" Since I had already lied and said I wasn't me, I experienced a blast of liberation.  I took a deep breath and declared, "No.  I consider myself a Progressive."

"But Democrats ARE progressive," she replied, sounding a bit surprised that a Progressive would distinguish herself from a Democrat.

I said, "As a solid Progressive I would argue that point.  I would say that Barack Obama sure looks like a lot like a Republican."  Then I told her I didn't have the energy to discuss it further.  I wished her well, said Good Night and hung up the phone.  I was stunned by my own behavior.  Saying No to the Democrats was so out of character for me that when the phone rang a few minutes later, I was afraid it was Democrats in Washington, DC calling to ask what was wrong.  I think like that if I've been smoking weed, but I would like to think that the Democratic party would actually be concerned if Progressives stopped handing them money.

There are so many competing voices calling for our attention that it's hard to know who to support.  A group called RootsAction had sent an email asking for my signature on a petition opposing the war in Afghanistan.  Since Daniel Ellsberg wrote the statement, I signed.  If anyone on this planet understands Political Duplicity and the Military Industrial Complex, it's Daniel Ellsberg.   Richard Nixon himself believed Daniel Ellsberg was the most dangerous man in America on account of the Pentagon Papers.  I figured he ought to know exactly what's going on with Afghanistan (Here's the Petition).

 I am one little voice like so many other little voices - a single signature on a petition who can rarely donate more than twenty bucks to anybody's anything - but real revolution starts down here at the bottom like in Yertle the Turtle by. Dr. Suess (Random House,1958). Yertle, King of the Turtle Pond, declares that he's ruler of all he can see.  Then he decides he needs to see more and orders all the turtles to climb into stack under his throne so that he is lifted higher and higher and higher.  Eventually, a plain little turtle named Mack has something to say.

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”
“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack."

Most of our leaders in this country have adopted Yertle's attitude. The workers need to shut up and suck it up while they get richer and richer and richer.  Congress extended tax breaks to the wealthy despite the fact that our country is in debt and that in the years since those tax breaks were originally instituted, none of that wealth trickled down.  Then our President begs the US Chamber of Commerce - who funneled huge sums of money to Tea Baggers like Sharron Angle as a result of a decision by Supreme Court justices who flaunted their conflicts of interest - to convince these same wealthy bastards to start hiring people and investing in the future instead of hording the cash they received from a stimulus package they loudly opposed and buying watches that cost more than many annual salaries.

Yertle bullies over two hundred turtles to stack themselves under him so he can see for miles.  He's quite delighted with his accomplishment until he sees the moon in the sky and shouts, "I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will! I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ‘em to heaven! I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”  That's when plain little Mack decides he has had enough.

And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!
And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!
And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.

We're going to have to do more than belch. Those of us in the middle and the bottom of the stack are going to have to organize so that our voices grow louder than the loud mouths at the top. There was a time when I thought Barack Obama would speak for the workers of America, but that time is past. I'm glad that there are organizations like Common Cause and Roots Action because I can trust them to speak for me. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers, whose father was a founder of the John Birch Society, have bought and paid for our government. They are stepping on our heads every day. Those of us who prefer to live in a Democracy instead of a Plutocracy are going to have to demand our rights, and we're going to have to stand together to do it ourselves.

If only 5,000,000 people gave twenty bucks to local or national organizations that really DO speak for us,- that's $100,000,000. Those organizations can contribute money to the few members of Congress who still advocate in our interests. A hundred million dollars is more than a belch. It's a Rebel Alliance that really can bring down Darth Vader and the Death Star.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Buzz Kill Zone

I've been trapped in the Buzz Kill zone. He and Velvet have been painting the apartment, and after seven straight days of Buzz Kill, I found myself experiencing the exact feelings I had throughout our marriage.  Fortunately, I've been determined to be civil, so never once have I said, "I fucking hate you, Motherfucker."

By the second day of the project, however, I asked him if he was retarded.  He was pretending to Skim Coat a wall - which means putting a thin coat of plaster all over a rough and/or damaged surface in order to make the wall smooth for painting.  In reality, Buzz Kill slopped Spackle all over the walls in the living room, and then proceeded to sand said Spackle without covering the upholstered sofa, the CDs, the TV, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  I wasn't home at the time, but before he got started the next day, I started putting drop cloths over all the furniture and asked him how someone who has complained of asthma for over thirty years could be so careless about dust.  I had barely gotten a sheet over the sofa when he got up on the step stool and started sanding the wall directly over my antique cash register, letting the dust settle into the mechanism while I was standing right there fixing to put a sheet over it.

That's when I asked him if he was retarded.

As a teacher with nearly 25 years experience and two advanced degrees in Education, I can say with authority that there is a distinct difference between a person with cognitive delays and a Retard.  A Retard, in my view, is a person whose Standford-Binet scores are average or above but who is, nevertheless, fucking stupid.  Comparing Palins, for example, we see that although Trigg Palin has Downs Syndrome which means he has cognitive delays, it is wrong and inaccurate to call him a Retard.  His mother, on the other hand, is a Retard.

There have been instances in the past when I thought for sure that Buzz Kill was a Retard, but the reality is that he's the most passive aggressive son of a bitch I ever met in my damn life.  Passive Aggressive people get off by agitating others.  They behave in ways that annoy the living shit out of the people in their lives, then when that person gets pissed, the passive aggressive acts like an innocent bystander and often suggests the anger of their friends and relatives is unjust and/or crazy.

I had to be medicated into a coma while I was married to that man.  We'd been divorced about a year when I started phasing off my meds.  About eighteen months later, I phased out of therapy all together.  Although it's easy to see why I'd feel as if I were being persecuted under the Buzz Kill regime, the thing is that there's nothing at all personal about Buzz Kill's behavior.  He's so anxious about Life, The Universe and Everything that his spazz outs have rippling and crippling effects on everyone around him.

It's not that he was deliberately trying to antagonize me when he started sanding without a drop cloth over the cash register.  He gets tunnel vision when he's focused on something to the exclusion of good sense and practicality.  Velvet's academic record suggests he does the same thing - he jumps in without thinking or reading the instructions because in his own mind, he already knows everything he needs to know.

Sarah Palin could be doing the same thing.  She is so confident that anything she does is Right that she doesn't understand her behavior might not be greeted by universal applause.  Maybe she's not calculating and deliberately provocative.  Maybe she's just a Retard whose only focus is getting attention on TV.

If Sarah Palin is that stupid, and she clearly is that stupid, then somebody with a brain is behind her rise to stardom.  Somebody smart like Ginny Thomas. Say what you will about Clarence Thomas and Anthony Scalia - those Teabagging Activists are not stupid and neither is that world class teabagging fundraiser, Ginny Thomas.

What if Rupert and Ginny and the Koch Brothers decided to put Sarah Palin on TV with that publicity whore Glenn Beck so that they could wag the dog, effectively drawing attention away from all that judicial activism  other miscellaneous Teabagging conflict of interest like the lithium under the hills in Afghanistan?

Karl Rove and Dick Cheney have something to do with that Lithium and the War, and while I can believe they had something to do with Sarah Palin being the Vice Presidential candidate, I doubt they're enjoying her performance on Fox any more than I am - even though they are certainly benefiting from assholes running their mouths in the media.  Plutocrats have to put up with bullshit from their associates just like everybody else as one hand washes the other.

All peons like us can do is try to get some control over our own living rooms.  When we insist that the people in our lives clean up after themselves we are holding them accountable for their behavior as opposed to giving them carte blanche to fuck up our environment like our government gave those bastards at BP.

Maybe if there were more evidence of Accountability in Washington and on Wall Street, ideas of Violent Revolution wouldn't permeate the air, fueled by an impotent rage that seethes inside so many of us.  As a country, we are united in our fury regardless of our political persuasions.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Well, Well, Well

My parents listened to Peter, Paul & Mary all the time when I was a little kid.  This song must have lodged in my memory because it bubbled up the other day and has been stuck in my head ever since.

I'm not sure if it has anything to do with that kid shooting all those people in Arizona or not, but I've been bumming out about that incident.  Hard to believe it was only a little over a week ago. I was up in Connecticut with VeryMissMary at the time and she doesn't have a TV at that house, but I read about it on the internet.  I like the internet better anyway because TV news is noisy and full of shit.

That was a hard weekend all the way around because the traffic jam from a terrible accident turned a two and a half hour drive into a nine hour nightmare on account of the snow storm.  One thing I didn't learn in Texas was how to drive in a snow storm.  Hurricanes?  No problem - but driving in snow storms still scares me, especially after dark when you can't tell the difference between pavement and black ice.  You have to operate as if you're in danger every moment because, in fact, you are.

There's all kinds of scary weather and earthquakes and stuff happening around the world lately kind of like this verse:
World's not waitin' for the Lord's command,
Buildin' a fire that'll sweep the land.
Thunder out of heaven, comin' Gabriel's call;
And the sea's gonna boil and the sky's gonna fall.
Looks like we really might be reaping what we've sewed.

You really have to wonder about a country where people Go Postal with enough regularity that there's a colloquial expression like Going Postal.  Maybe this country is filled with lone, crazy people and occasionally one of them gets a wild hair and starts shooting like at Virginia Tech, or Columbine or Ft. Hood.  Sometimes youngsters get into the act and shoot up their elementary schools

Who knows why Jared decided to shoot all those people - but the fact that he had a cartridge with 31 bullets in the gun he bought legally shows a lot of collective effort went into killing those people at Safeway on a Saturday morning.  There's a lot of collective effort behind all the military suicides, too, if you ask me.  But as noxious as political rhetoric has been lately - especially from Teabagging Republicans - Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of them simply give voice to the worst aspects of our society.  The thoughts they express are already wide spread or they wouldn't find an audience.  They didn't have any more to do with that shooting than Marilyn Mason had with Columbine.

I'd like to think there's a Silent Majority out there who won't speak up for all the reasons John Stewart outlined at the rally - but it's just as likely that nobody speaks up because they are too tired from working 16 hour days or too deeply in despair from not working at all.   Even if a person's life circumstances are okay, being bombarded by sound bites from pundits and politicians is enough to drive you nuts.  Plutocrats have a vested interest in keeping us divided and despairing.  A Spanish sociologist named Pablo Ouziel describes our isolation.
Serious events and acts are taking place everyday which merit serious social debate, yet because of the fact that our societies are deeply fragmented, broken and clashing between each other, we are unable to grant ourselves the necessary pause, required for conciliation and unity.
Because of this, we are easy to control as a mass of isolated individuals, which is held together by norms and regulations, bureaucracies, military and police, and concepts such as the nation state, the church and the corporation.
If we are to stay in this model of society, I fear we will live in perpetual war until we destroy ourselves by not paying attention to the fact that something is drastically wrong. (
Our alienation from each other prevents us from working collaboratively with our friends and neighbors so that our voices have as much influence as Sarah Palin or her BFF Glenn Beck.

On the airplane home from Texas, Velvet and I had to sit next to some skinny, bleached blonde cunt who had a deck of BP playing cards.  Any thinking person would realize that BP is an offensive affront to this entire planet and everyone on it - but not that bitch.  She carries BP in her handbag.  Something is drastically wrong, indeed.  The same society that enabled the Deepwater Disaster enabled Jared Loughner of Arizona.  It's not Sarah Palin's fault, or Rush's or Glenn Beck's either.  It's the fault of a society that pays them to speak in the first place.  

I joined a group today called RootsAction.   It's an independent organization supported by Daniel Ellsberg, Cornell West, Jim Hightower, Naomi Klein and other progressives.  The introductory page reads:
The 2010 election showed that you can’t beat heartless Republicans with spineless Democrats.We need a fresh approach to defend the public interest. Our country faces a far-right Republican Party that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America, and a Democratic Party whose leadership is enmeshed with corporate power.  
RootsAction is a new online initiative dedicated to galvanizing millions of Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars.
I'll drink to that.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goats in The Patriarchy

I had a revelation at Hookah House last weekend:  Traditional Education is a Patriarchal Imposition. I immediately imagined telling Woody about this recognition and hearing him say, "Well, DUH." He used to be a college professor, so he ought to know.

Colleges recruit students, and as soon as those eager young learners are installed in the dorm, The Institution sets out to Fail them in an effort to separate the Sheep from the Goats.  Apparently, a College sees a number of goats that can be turned into sheep if the goats are willing to put in a bit of effort.

Velvet had made an appeal to some committee that instead of being suspended, he be allowed to register for a Forestry class so that he could receive Tree Hugger credit for his course in the Rockies.  Tree Hugger said, "No."  We haven't been officially notified of this rejection.  Velvet needed a professor to sign a form for his Rockies course and the guy refused because the appeal was rejected.  Once Velvet explained that the form merely states that he wasn't kicked out for drugs or alcohol, the guy quit being a dickwad about the whole thing and signed it with a smile.

That's when Velvet knew he was being Punished.  Some of his brothers, who have also been suspended from Tree Hugger for grades, have told Velvet that nobody's appeal is ever approved.  Once the period of suspension is over, getting readmitted is no problem.  Being suspended must be part of the process of turning a goat into a sheep by requiring said goat to submit to said process.  Since Velvet is determined to go back to Tree Hugger in the fall simply to prove to himself and the world that he can succeed in that environment, I suppose being suspended is having the desired outcome.  When you don't comply or conform, you get punished so that you eventurally conform in order to avoid punishment.  That's how old fashioned Behavior Modification works.  Pavlov didn't do brain surgery on the damn dog, after all.  Just Behavior Modification.

I would be pissed about the whole thing since I firmly believe that the supports Tree Hugger provides for kids with learning differences are absolutely inadequate and that by requiring students to perform under these conditions, Tree Hugger undermines cognitive diversity.  You would think that an institution which is committed to Bio-diversity would also support Neurodiversity, but no.  Students sink or swim which, in my professional opinion as an educator with two of my own advanced degrees and twenty five years in Early Childhood, is simply fucking wrong.  Educators should be able to utilize a variety of methods when presenting material so that a variety of learners have access to that material.  That way, almost everyone learns to swim and has fun in the water.  You don't present material to a limited group of swimmers then curse the others for drowning.

The thing, is, however, that part of the reason Velvet failed two classes this past semester is that he skipped too many classes.  Most likely, he wasn't even high.  He was mostly likely playing video games at Hookah House and didn't feel like hauling his ass out into the rain to walk to class.  Or maybe he figured that he already knew everything they were talking about and didn't need to go.  Since he got 85s on all his tests, he clearly did know the material.  The trouble is that he didn't look at the section of the syllabus that said, in no uncertain terms, that tests counted for 40% of the final grade.  Class Participation and Assignments counted for 60%.

Velvet's Executive Dysfunction does mean he gets sadly and terminally confused about assignments and when they are due.  His organizational abilities are For Shit, but I suspect the professors would have cut him some slack on that score if he had gotten off his ass and come to class.   You don't look at the syllabus after you get your report card and discover to your chagrin and surprise that class participation is worth 30% without consequences.

When I first started dealing with Velvet's situation, Mr. Charleston left a comment that Velvet didn't need understanding - he needed an ass-kicking.  I wasn't offended because Mr. Charleston is a military man and from a patriarchal perspective, an ass-kicking is in order.  At the time, however, I didn't understand that Traditional Education is as much a Patriarchal Imposition as the Military.  The pecking order I witnessed at Hookah House is a hierarchy based upon Patriarchal Imposition, too.

Although I don't know all the particulars of the situation I witnessed, I can say with certainty that when the guys were deciding if Brother A got precedence over Brother B with regard to living arrangements, they might as well have been talking about a poker game.  Three of a Kind beats Two Pair - the end.  Rules are clearly defined, designated individuals are given a certain amount of authority under these same rules so that they can settle disputes and order is maintained.  Sometimes an individual without any particular official status has a lot of clout because he's a dominant kind of Alpha Male - but even he would have to accept the decisions of office holders within the hierarchy.  Dominance alone does not give a person Authority.   Authority is a Social Construct - just like Morality, and just like getting suspended if and when your GPA drops below a 2.0.

Given that Velvet will eventually have to function in this society, and that this entire society is a Patriarchal Imposition all the way to Sarah Palin - I suppose it's in Velvet's best interests to learn how to operate within the confines of this system.  We can question whether or not it's a good thing to become a sheep later.

Years ago at the University of Texas at Austin I learned that college degrees prove nothing more than a person's ability to manage bullshit tasks like Library Fines and Late Registration.  Jump through a predetermined number of hoops in the appropriate sequence and you get a degree.  Certain jobs require degrees.  My Pulitzer prize winning brother does not have a college degree, so according to HR Rules at the paper where he works, he can't be an editor even though he's most likely twice the journalist his boss will ever be.  He's an all around better person, too, very likely - but that doesn't count for shit in a rule book.

Whatever a college degree proves - having a degree does not mean a person has more value in the world than anyone else.  PhDs may think they are superior, and Bureaucrats may dream up job requirements that protect their own positions.  Preachers may think God gave them Moral Authority, too.  They can all think that bullshit as much as they want.   A college degree does not automatically mean that your contributions will make the world a better place.  It just means you jumped through a few hoops.

Ultimately, my argument with traditional education is that it generally does not produce more critical thinkers on purpose.  It produces rats for the rat race - as if we need more rats.  If we need creative individuals to find alternatives and solutions to our current problems, we need to change the educational paradigm, as Ken Robbinson illustrates in this video.  It's long, but he draws an intriguing and disturbing connection between over-reliance on standardized testing, the subsequent removal of Arts & Humanities from the curriculum and the rise in prescriptions for ADHD.

Ever since I was first exposed to the ideas of Jonathan Kozol - about how traditional education guarantees plenty of workers for low-wage jobs and plenty of cannon fodder for the military because the curriculum is structured to prevent students from making the connections that would enable and empower them to Question Authority - I have been a dedicated progressive educator as defined by John Dewey.  We're not in the business of creating cannon fodder.   We agreed to take on the challenge when George Counts asked, "Dare the Schools Build a New Social Order?" even though it will take a hundred lifetimes working Inch by Inch, Row by Row.

As I watch my son being trained to run the Rat Race, every bone in my body cringes.  I'm pretty sure it's ultimately for the best because he must be able to function independently within this system.  I just wish somebody would encourage him to embrace his inner-goat in the process.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Retreat into Dungeons & Dragons

Now that Velvet has gotten used to the idea that he's not going back to school this weekend, he's started hanging out with one of his friends from Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp, whom I'll call Hawk Eye because even though one of his eyes is glass, he's seen a lot.  He has been friends with a kid named Louey since preschool.  Velvet and Louey have been distantly friendly since ninth grade.

Louey comes from a wealthy but irresponsible family.  His mother is a shrink who is remarried and lives in Connecticut.  I've never met her or Louey's father who lives in pricey digs in the East 30s.  From what I have observed, they gave Louey a credit card when he was 14 or so and let him work things out for himself.  His social skills were such that no matter what the occasion, Louey managed to piss off at least half the people there. 

I never got the whole story of Louey's freshman year at college, but it began with him having access to $125,000 and ended with him busted for dealing cocaine and in rehab.  I think his father made him pay for his own lawyer.

I didn't get the whole story of Hawk Eye's college experience either, but I know it involves going to a Catholic College, taking up Bagpipes, marching down Fifth Avenue with the kilted bagpipe corps in the St. Patrick's day parade, heavy drinking, more heavy drinking and a mysterious disease that led to his withdrawal from school.  He and his big brother got their own apartment very far downtown on Water Street.  Louey got an apartment in the same building.

Hawk Eye started hanging out our place after his father died.  Hawk Eye and his father were scuba diving on a family vacation when something went wrong. Hawk Eye watched his father die.  He was 12 or 13.  Even though Buzz Kill and I were going through the divorce for those two or three years, Hawk Eye thought our house was jolly.  His mom fell apart.

A couple of years later, one of their buddies from Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp was killed in an accident.   They were all in Eighth grade at the time.   The next summer, the boy's family came up to camp and we all gathered to plant a tree in honor of the son.  We had a silent meeting, the boys who felt like saying something did, then we sang a bunch of Teddy's favorite songs, including this one:

While we were singing, I was standing next to the mom.  My own heart nearly stopped from the grief pouring out of her.

When the singing was done, we all tossed shovels of dirt into the hole around the tree. One of the boys put in a copy of the the front page of a Boston paper with the story that the Sox beat the Yankees in the Series.  Teddy loved the Boston Red Sox. After Hawk Eye put his dirt into the hole, he knelt down with his knife in his hand. I watched him closely because it looked for all the world to me like he wanted to slit his wrist - but it also looked kind of like he was saluting a comrade. 

What a day.

So Velvet and Hawk Eye have been through a lot together, and now they're playing D&D together again.  It's almost like they've gathered at base camp to center themselves in preparation for setting out into the Wide World again. 

In five weeks, Velvet leaves for Wyoming.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Connecticut Waltons

I'm having trouble getting it up to be Political.
I'm too stuck in my own Bullshit.  Many times when I've felt Political, I've said that we need to stick together so that when one of us Loud Mouthed Progressives falls down, another one will stand up and mouth off.  That one falls down, and another stands up, and so on and so on.

I admire Parsley's Pics because she never seems to fall down.  She must, of course, because we all do.  Even still, she always has something intelligent to contribute to the conversation.  At the moment, I have nothing to contribute except personal disappointments.  I suppose there's a place for that but only because there seems to be a place for everything - and also because a lot of folks seem pervasively grouchy at the moment.

Things on the home front are so oppressive that I can't even look at that dang John Boehner.  Passing DADT seems to me to be another recruiting technique for an all volunteer military that can't sustain an endless war.  This country will condescend to let our LGBT citizens get killed, but they can't get married.  That's bullshit - especially when you consider that so many marriages are a living hell anyway.  That Artist from the South of France I dated for a little while said that when France instituted something like Domestic Partnerships so that queer couples could have the same rights under the law as married couples - heteros stopped getting married.

I maintain that the only people foaming at the mouth to get to the altar today in America are LGBT.

I have read enough headlines on the internet to determine that Obama is an old school Republican - similar to Bob Dole, maybe, except that I never paid enough attention to Republicans to know one from another.  However, my mother assures me that in the past, there were decent Republicans.  When I think of Bob Dole, I think of Viagra and how he must have made a bundle off it since prescription plans pay for Viagra even though they often won't pay for birth control pills.

My mother also says that Bill Clinton is Republican Lite, and since Obama can't do enough to turn himself into Bill Clinton, we can conclude that Barack Obama is a Republican.  The Republicans, therefore, are so conservative that I don't even know what to call them.  I never learned the difference between all those political factions back in World War II, like Fascists and Marxists and Nazis.  I know Fascists were in Italy, Marxists in Russia (sort of) and Nazis were in Germany, but all I know for sure is that Republicans aren't Marxists or Socialists unless they're trying to boss around somebody in their own neighborhood.  For example, when a country club in Houston wanted to build condos around the perimeter, the neighbors in the fancy houses across the street interfered with the property owner's sovereign right to do what he wanted with his own damn golf course.  I can't remember the whole story - I just know that when they commenced argufying, the neighborhood water district refused to sell water to the country club in order to force the property owner to capitulate to the demands of the neighborhood rich guys - which might make the neighbors kind of like the Israelis.  I don't know what the Israelis are either - I just know they understand how to use water for political and social purposes.

The fight between the Country Club and the Neighbors was about to get serious when Hurricane Ike hit and did enough minor damage to the country club so that the property owner could get wads and wads of FEMA money - ergo: everyone is now happy down at Raveneaux.   Although I'm sure I've got details and facts wrong in this tale, the moral remains the same:  Those damn Republicans are all for individual rights until those rights interfere with their own personal interests.  Double Standards and Total Bullshit prevail. And these Republicans aren't even Tea Baggers, although they may give money to Tea Baggers.  That's Entertainment not Politics.

Anyway, I hate those motherfuckers which is another reason I just couldn't see moving to Texas right now.  When the Christian Fiction section in Barnes & Noble is bigger than Personal Finance or Bargain Books, you know you're in trouble.  Maybe I'll move to Texas next year.  Maybe I'll hit megamillions and buy a small island country and turn it into a Hippie Haven.  My advisors' job would be to prevent me from following my natural inclinations and turning into Imelda Marcos or whoever that woman was in South America.  Madonna played her in the movie:

Was Evita Bad or Good? I don't know. I just like the outfits.

I'll be driving through the snow this afternoon to join VeryMissMary in Connecticut.  She got a recipe from a restaurant she loves on Amsterdam Avenue for a drink that is much like Egg Nog, except that it's really Creme Anglaise and turns into a beverage that is rather like a Vanilla Brandy Alexander.

After you make the Creme Angliase, you mix in the Five Dirty Browns:  Rum, Bourbon, Cognac, Brandy and some other whiskey.  It's tasty and it kicks your ass, which means it's now my favorite drink.  We're going to mix up a batch and invite that tasty boiler repair man over for cocktails.  Things with the Young Socialist are not progressing as I would have liked because he doesn't get off work until 10:00 at night and then because he lives and works deep in Brooklyn, it would mean at least an hour subway ride for him to get to my place.  All well and good if you're planning a sleep-over, but that's out of the question until Velvet heads out for the Wyoming Rockies in mid-February.  Hence, an exploratory mission with the Boiler Repair Man.

I like the idea simply because the opportunity for punning is virtually endless.  It's just that I suck at puns, so somebody else will have to do the punning.  Here's me and VeryMissMary when we got held for ransom at the Chanel counter at a Lord & Taylor in Connecticut:

We may do some live blogging on her site once we get the mixture right.  She hasn't updated her blog since the last time I was inclined and sober enough to type.  Eventually, we're going to brew up some herb tea also because one of our aspirations is to turn a small village into Vicodinville and become like the Misses Emily and Mamie Baldwin on the Waltons.  Or Bartles & James.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Smashing Gingerbread Men

I killed the last of the gingerbread men.  I took a tablespoon and pulverized their heads and arms and feet.  I really wanted to throw dishes off the terrace so I could hear the pottery shatter on the parking lot pavement, but the security guard would certainly have noticed, so I crushed half a bag of tortilla chips instead.  I pounded that bag with my fist until I smashed them to smithereens.

It was all because of Buzz Kill.  He came over Sunday afternoon to set a schedule with Velvet for painting the apartment.  They are starting today by sanding the window sills and patching holes in the wall.  There was other family business to address, but I can't even remember what we were supposed to do. Property Taxes or something.  It doesn't matter.  He walked into the apartment, so late that I had just called him to say he should forget about coming over, and proceeded to shove his own agenda in my face.

As someone who has dealt with this passive aggressive douchebag for years and years and years, I should have recognized the set up.  Buzz Kill buries his own anger so deeply down inside himself that he can effectively believe he's not a bit angry.  Then he pisses off everybody else and experiences anger vicariously through us, sitting there snickering as if he can't understand our rage when he's the motherfucker who deliberately - albeit subconsciously - provoked the situation so he could enjoy the Angry Show.

He pulled this same bullshit the whole time we were married.  He and Vagina Dentata were in business together as manufacturer's reps for ladies' accessories, and Buzz Kill would come home from the showroom filled with complains about Vagina Dentata's outrageous behavior.  I inevitably put on an angry show while Buzz Kill sat quietly and said he didn't have time to be angry because he had to go back to work with her in the morning.  After a few years, I told him that I didn't want to hear another word about his fucking business since he never listened to me and wouldn't do anything to change the situation for himself.  He moved in with Vagina Dentata after the divorce, into the same room he lived in as a child.  Four years later, he still lives there - although he spends most of his time at his girlfriend's.

He's a putz.

He's still in the business although they no longer have a Fifth Avenue showroom and his mother's bogus role in the corporation was eliminated in the bankruptcy.   Before we divorced, I tried to get him to restructure the business effectively phasing out his mother.  Even though his robber baron sister was already "buying out" Vagina Dentata's shares of the family corporation and thereby proving her with a steady, reliable income, Buzz Kill didn't want to hurt his mother's feelings by suggesting it was time for her to retire.  Never mind that her only job for over a decade had been to order in lunch for everyone at the showroom, suck up to buyers and designers, drink copious amounts of chardonnay all afternoon, then wear the jewelry samples and hats out with her drinking buddies to the theatre or dinner or some fashion related public relations function.

The only way Buzz Kill could get Vagina Dentata out of the business without hurting her feelings was to run it into bankruptcy.  The final hearing was back in the fall.

The worst thing she ever did was during one of the endless series of Market Weeks, where little vendors from around the country set up booths in the Javitz Center.  She found a budding designer and ordered a custom fox fur coat and hat made from pelts she chose specially to match the shade she dyed her hair and charged it to the business.  No wonder our personal account was terminally overdrawn.  I finally set up a separate account of my own, where I deposited my meager paychecks from the local YMCA where I taught art classes to preschoolers.  That way I knew I'd have grocery money and bus fare for me and Velvet no matter how fucked up our finances got because of Buzz Kill and that boozy bitch, Vagina Dentata.

It's not Vagina Dentata's fault, of course.  Buzz Kill was a grown man with a family of his own.  He made his own choices, and he chose to support her before his family.   Now he supports his mini-triathlon habit and I smash gingerbread men.

On Sunday I was furious at Buzz Kill for devoting all his spare time over the last couple of years to training for mini-triathlons and leaving all the parenting to me.  He's so into his own damn self that instead of sleeping at home on his nights with Velvet, Buzz Kill ditched right after dinner to go sleep at his girlfriend's place, leaving Velvet to tend to Vagina Dentata.  After a few weeks of this shit, Velvet stopped sleeping at his Dad's.

In the land of divorces, Buzz Kill isn't a horrible father.  He's just so absent that Velvet experiences him as an Uncle instead of a Father.  For the last several months, Velvet's been meeting Buzz Kill at a local pub to drink a couple of beers and throw darts.  According to Velvet, Buzz Kill goes to that pub almost every day, so it's like he's created his own personal Cheers.

It could be worse - but he's still a putz.

It's just a good thing I divorced him when I did, protecting the apartment from the IRS.  My divorce decree requires Buzz Kill to put 75% of Velvet's college expenses into a separate escrow account once the apartment is sold.  We established these percentages after the court insisted that an independent forensic accountant go over Buzz Kill's books to determine how much money the business actually made.  Buzz Kill did things like pay Velvet's summer camp tuition straight from the business account so we maintained a certain lifestyle without declaring income to the IRS.  All that eventually came to light in the corporate bankruptcy, but by then, I had secured the apartment, Velvet's college money and miscellaneous other funds.

The good news is that any time I have a real issue with Buzz Kill over money, all I have to do is mention the word "lawyer" or "judge" and he shuts the fuck up.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Magpie Monday

I'm over at Black Magpie Theory today with Subverting Family Traditions. It's about Velvet's decision to become a violent revolutionary.