Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweet Dreams, Baby

-Dream Baby recorded by Roy Orbison

I was at a drive-in Psychic in Denver. The small building was set in the green space across from that big brown apartment building on South Marion Parkway just north of Washington Park. The psychic told me I was heart sad. I felt very sad after he told me this and walked away. Then I walked back and asked him if that was the same as being soul sad. There was another psychic sitting right next to him and the two men exchanged glances and smiled. They smiled in that way adults do when children talk about something they really don't know anything about. The first psychic turned to me and told me that no one can be soul sad. The second psychic said, "But when they are, they are evil."

Then I woke up.

Funny, I did not think of this as a sad dream. I was sad after I was told I was heart sad because I knew this was true. I was a little chagrined by the fact that my broken heart could be so easily seen. After thinking about this dream some more I now realize I went back to ask if someone could be soul sad because my feeling of heart sadness was so profound. This deep of a hurt could not just be the heart breaking- it must be the soul breaking. I now see that the men could have been amused by my question just because I asked it. When the first man said no one could be soul sad I think he meant I could never be soul sad because I did not have a broken soul. The second man's answer makes me think that those who we consider to be evil people do evil things because their souls are broken. My soul is not broken therefore I could never be evil.

(That last thought is either the thought of a lapsed Catholic worrying about her soul or the thought of the next Jim Jones. )

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Amazing Grace

Life is a gift, and I try to respond with grace and courtesy.
-Maya Angelou

I heard a small portion of this on the news last week. It is Craig Ferguson talking about his alcohol addiction and Britney Spears on his program The Late Late Show.

(I found out this was on YouTube through

Monday, February 26, 2007

And The Nude Goldplated Little Man Goes To...

Question: Why is it no matter how hard they try Hollywood can not stay away from tacky?

All in all the Oscars were pretty subdued this year with a bit of Cirque du Soleil influence in the pieces by Pilobolus Dance Theatre. Having them on stage during The Oscars was a visual example of the the phrase tragically hip.

Note to Oscar people: Stop trying so hard.

The whole thing was just too long. They could have shortened the broadcast just by having the presenters not take that long walk from the back of the stage to the "this is where I will talk" spot. And why must we hear every word of the nominated songs? We only hear small snatches from the Best Soundtrack nominees, why not the songs too? It's not like any of them are ever that good.

I did enjoy Ellen DeGeneres' whimsical sense of humor. I did enjoy the the various montages. I was happy when Martin Scorsese, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Hudson, and Forest Whitaker won their Oscars. I was very happy when the whole thing was finally over almost an hour past the scheduled ending time.

Update: For an almost minute by minute breakdown of this year's Oscar broadcast go here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Word Police! Drop The Book And No One Will Get Hurt!

Modem, totem, scrotum. Which one of these words must parents, teachers, and librarians be protected from ever having to explain the meaning of to children? Yep, scrotum. A new children's book, The Higher Power of Lucky, is so offensive to certain parents, teachers, and librarians it has been banned from some school libraries. The Power Of Lucky is a Newbery Medal winner about the problems of a ten year old girl named Lucky living in a small town in California. The book begins with her overhearing a conversation where she learns about a dog that was bit in the scrotum by a rattlesnake.

That this book has been banned is some quarters in not that surprising to me. Our country prides itself on the personal freedoms enjoyed by its citizens but the truth is most people want to define just what those freedoms are and then force their belief on others. What I have never understood is this need to control what other people's children read. Growing up my mother let me and my siblings read whatever we wanted; children's books, comic books, movie magazines, newspapers, and "grownup books." Her view was that our reading anything was good. If we were reading something above our age level of understanding then what was over ours heads could not hurt us.

"Protecting" children from disturbing books (disturbing for the grownups that is) has been going on for years. A list of banned children's books can be found here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Go Astral Girl

Soaring high in the sky...

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. You know, that time of day when a soft blanket of stillness and quiet muffles all sound. I was in bed lying on my left side with my knees slightly drawn up to my belly but at the same time a part of me was standing above my body just behind my back. As I lay there I realized that the me lying on the bed had no weight and could not feel the mattress underneath her. Before my mind had a chance to absorb what was happening I felt the standing me spin and drop. It was the same feeling I got as a kid whenever I lost my balance while sitting in a chair tipped onto its back legs. That body falling backward feeling and then dizziness as I tried to recover my balance. In a split-second the standing me was gone and the me lying on the bed felt heavy as the weight of my body pushed against the mattress. It was like being on a fast moving down elevator right at the moment it stops moving. Your body feels like it is sinking as the full effect of gravity hits it. I could feel where my right ankle, left elbow and hip pressed against the sheet underneath me.

I thought,"That was strange," and fell back to sleep.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

True Or False?

1. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
-H. L. Mencken

2. Rumors is: the title of the best selling, Grammy Award wining, 19x Platinum Record wining album by the music group Fleetwood Mac.

3. Rumors are: A statement or opinion widely circulated from person to person, though unconfirmed by facts or evidence.

4. The reason Britney Spears shaved her head was because Anna Nicole Smith in death was getting more media coverage than she, Britney Spears, was getting in life.

5. The reason British Prime Minister Tony Blair is pulling British troops out of Iraq is to keep Prince Harry from going there himself.

6. The reason wackjob Judge Larry Seidlin, presiding over the Anna Nicole Smith who gets custody of her baby and body hearing, is acting so bizarrely is because he wants his own courtroom TV show.

7. The reason any of this crap is even considered news is because the majority of the people in our society are mindless morons.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Love And Mercy

-Brian Wilson

I was sittin' in a crummy movie with my hands on my chin
Oh the violence that occurs seems like we never win

Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was lyin' in my room and the news came on TV
A lotta people out there hurtin' and it really scares me

Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was standin' in a bar and watchin' all the people there
Oh the loneliness in this world, well it's just not fair

Hey love and mercy that's what you need tonight
So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
Love and mercy tonight

Love and mercy

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Crossing

Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.
-Robert F. Kennedy

On December 14, 1961 a fast moving train slammed into a school bus just outside of Greeley, Colorado. Thirty-six children were on board. After the impact ripped the back of the bus from the rest of the frame 16 children, along with the driver, were still alive. Who lived and who died seemed random. One girl sitting between two other girls lived while her friends died. One child switched seat with her brother minutes before the crash; she lived, he died. Two families lost all their children. One family lost one child and had another injured. One family lost two children while another one was injured. One little girl wanted to stay home so she could visit her father in the hospital; she died in the crash.

Other children who normally rode the bus were not on it that day. Two because they overslept (sisters), one because of illness, and another because he wanted to get to school a little early that day and had caught a ride with his older brother.

I was ten years old when this happen and do not remember hearing anything about it. Two and a half years later it was the main focus of my life. That was the summer my brother, sisters, and I spent in foster care. I always thought we had spent the entire summer in that place and was surprised to find out years later it was only two weeks. However long we were there it was enough to...I wanted to write "change our lives" but that is not correct. What it changed was us.

Before we went in my brother was best friends with another boy who came over to see us when we got back home. I remember standing in the backyard with my brother staring at this poor boy as he talked to us and thinking what an immature jerk he was. My brother must have been thinking the same thing because as the boy kept talking he, the boy, started getting nervous. He was getting no reaction from us. We stood there, stone face, waiting for him to stop talking. When he did stop we had nothing to say to him. He quickly left and never came back.

(Another thing that stands out for me about this experience also involved my brother. When we went into foster care we called my brother "Ricky." When we came out we were calling him by his full name, Richard.)

The woman we were placed with had been taking in foster kids for quite awhile. Long enough for her to decide that foster children were not worth the time, effort, or money she put into them. Her anger radiated off her like heat off a hot stove. Maybe at one point she took in kids because she wanted to help them but by the time we got there she was only in it for the money the state paid her for each child she housed. Once, as she fed us dinner, she told me that the only reason we were there was because our parents no longer wanted us.

We were in a place that had no toys (foster kids only break them), no books (only Reader's Digest Condensed Books), and (after she caught me watching the Republican National Convention on TV) no television. Then I found a copy of Reader's Digest Magazine. In it was an article about the Greeley school bus/train accident. I read it again and again totally engrossed in the details and the photographs of the children who were killed or injured. I would carefully examine each school photo and think about who lived and who died. The one person I identified with the most was the girl who had survived while her two friends sitting on either side of her died. How could that happen? Was it luck or did it happen because somebody up there liked her? How can your life change in an instant through no fault of your own? Why is life so scary? Who can I trust? Who will take care of me if something goes wrong? Will I survive everything that happens to me? All questions that I could not articulate or even consciously think about at the time. All questions that I was trying to find the answers to by reading and re-reading that article every day of my life sentence in that foster home.

Why am I writing about this now? Because I have been reading a 33-part series of articles about the accident in The Rocky Mountain News. The articles cover the accident, the aftermath, and how it reverberated thorough the lives of the children, the families, the bus driver, the train engineer, and the community since then. Reading these articles has been hard for me. Telling their story has been even harder for the people involved. My heart goes out to them all.

Friday, February 16, 2007


I love to travel but it really kicks my butt after I get back home. This morning I got up around 9:00 AM which is about 2 1/2 hours later than normal. Another reason for my sleepiness could be the weather. Yesterday when I woke-up the temperature was -4F/-20C and the day never got warmer than 12F/-11C. This morning the temperature was 33F/0.5C and right now it is 44F/6.6C and raining. I just got back from the grocery store and it is weird to walk through 2 feet of snow while being rained on.

Anyway, I plan to catch-up on everyone's blog this weekend and will see you all on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Oh, FYI, this, is my favorite comic strip right now. And this, my favorite editorial cartoon; Mike Luckovich, February 16, 2007. The downside of 24 hour news programing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Have You Ever Been To Las Vegas?

Not this Vegas. The one in New Mexico. We stopped there on our way to Albuquerque last Thursday. I am sure you figured out by now I was away from home for the last ten days. Anyway, we stopped there because we needed a map of Albuquerque and saw a sign on the Interstate that said there was a Tourist Information Center in the town. When we got there we found out it was housed in the old train depot right next to a dilapidated old railroad hotel.

As I pulled the car into a parking space that faced the south side of the hotel I glanced up at one of the windows on the second floor and got the impression that a woman was standing there looking down at me. I turned my attention back to my driving and after I stopped the car and put it in park I looked up at the window again. I could not see anyone but I still had the feeling someone was watching me. I kept looking at the window as I climbed out of the car and turned to ask my husband if he could see anyone but he was all ready out of the car and halfway to the depot building. I followed him. As I walked across the lot I still felt I was being watched and so I kept turning to look up at the window where I saw the woman until I reached the door to the depot. I found the whole thing confusing because I knew enough railroad history to know that most guests were men in these old hotels. I could not imagine why I was seeing the ghost of a woman. When I got inside tourist office I found out the hotel had been a Harvey House.

Fred Harvey opened his first Harvey House in 1875. Harvey had worked in restaurants as a young man and then spent the next 30 years working for railroad companies. One thing Harvey hated about rail travel (this was before dinning cars were invented) was the food served in road houses at rail stops. These "restaurants" were filthy, served over priced badly prepared food and provided terrible service. Road houses were also so chaotic that most of the time the majority of the people waiting to be served did not get any food before the "train leaving" whistle sounded. Harvey knew he could do better and made a deal with the Atchison, Topeka,and Santa Fe Railway to build and run restaurants at all the major stops on the line.

His restaurants were a success but ten years after opening the first Harvey House he decided to replace his men waiters with women. This was because the men were causing more problems then they were worth by showing up to work drunk, or not at all, and getting into fights with the customers. Harvey decide he would hire and train young women to work in his restaurants. He described the women he wanted as, "...young woman, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent." To make sure he attracted the refined women he wanted to work for him, he also provide housing. At some point Harvey also decided to build hotels around his restaurants and in 1904 he build the La Castaneda in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The women who worked in the Harvey House restaurant lived in rooms on the second floor of the hotel. (This is what the woman at the TIC told me. Their website says the Harvey Girls lived here) The La Castaneda's Harvey House phase ended in 1948. The hotel stayed in business after that but by 2002 only the bar remained open. Then that closed and the hotel passed through a couple of owners. The owner before the present one has the second floor gutted and then redesigned the space into apartments. That didn't fly and the hotel now sits largely empty with the present owner the only tenant.

The fact that it was a Harvey House may explain why I saw the ghost of a woman. She must have lived, or at least, worked there in life. How she died or why she is still there is mystery though.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


misty water-colored memories
-Barbra Streisand

I went to Target the last time I was in Denver and had something interesting happen. I was in the DVD section and fell into a conversation with the man standing next to me. You know how you sometimes make an instant connection with someone you have never met before? It can be so intense that you remember them the rest of your life. I have had that happen a couple of time in my life that I can remember; there was a cab driver in New York and, another time, my sister's neighbor's aunt. I can't explain what it is like, you have either had it happen or you haven't. Well, I felt the same thing with this man.

We stood there talking about movies and the next thing I knew he was telling me how he had a stroke eight months before and that he spent that time period after it re-learning how to walk and talk. I remarked that he was doing very well for someone who had a stroke only eight months earlier. He said he thought so too but one after-effect of the stroke was the fact that he had lost his short term memory. I thought about this for a few seconds and then asked him if he would remember our conversation. He hesitated and then said, "Probably not."

That made me feel sad because I knew he had felt the instant connection and in a short time he would not remember it or me. I didn't want him to forget so instead of smiling politely and saying good-bye I put out my hand and he instinctively took it. Trying to put as much energy and feeling as I could into the handshake I warmly told him what a pleasure it was to meet him. Then I said good-bye and walked away.

Sometimes the body remembers when the brain does not. Maybe, by me touching him, deep in his being he will remember the connection we had. No one wants to be forgotten.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Juniper Tree (part six)

In the room sat the father, the mother, and little Marline, at dinner; and the father said, "Oh dear, how light and happy I feel!" "Nay," said the mother, "I am all of a tremble, just as if there were going to be a heavy thunderstorm." But little Marline sat and cried and cried, and the bird came flying, and as he perched on the roof, the father said, "I feel so lively, and the sun shines so deliciously outside, it's exactly as if I were going to see some old acquaintance again." "Nay," said the wife, " I am so frightened, my teeth chatter and it's like fire in my veins;" and she tore open her stays; but little Marline sat in a corner and cried, and held her plate before her eyes and cried it quite wet. Then the bird perched on the juniper tree, and sang--

My mother killed me;

Then the mother held her ears and shut her eyes, and would neither see nor hear; but it rumbled in her ears like the most terrible storm, and her eyes burned and twittered like lightning.

My father grieved for me;

"Oh, mother," said the man, "there is a beautiful bird that sings so splendidly; the sun shines so warm, and everything smells all like cinnamon."

My sister, little Marline,

Then Marline laid her head on her knees and cried away; but the man said, "I shall go out, I must see the bird close." "Oh! do not go," said the woman; "it seems as if the whole house shook and were on fire." But the man went out and looked at the bird.

Wept under the juniper tree;
Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I

And the bird let the gold chain fall, and it fell just round the man's neck, and fitted beautifully. Then he went in and said, "See what an excellent bird it is; it has given me such a beautiful gold chain, and it looks so splendid." But the woman was so frightened, that she fell her whole length on the floor, and her cap tumbled off her head. Then the bird sang again--

My mother killed me;

"Oh! that I were a thousand fathoms under the earth, not to hear that!"

My father grieved for me;

Then the woman fainted.

My sister, little Marline,

"Ah," said Marline, "I will go out too, and see if the bird will give me something;" and she went out. Then the bird threw the shoes down.

Wept under the juniper tree;
Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I

Then she was so happy and lively, she put the new red shoes on and danced and jumped back again. "Oh," said she, "I was so dull when I went out, and now I am so happy. That is a splendid bird; he has given me a pair of red shoes."

"Well," said the woman, and jumped up, and her hair stood on end like flames of fire, "I feel as if the world were coming to and end; I will go out too, and see if it will make me easier." And as she stepped outside the door--bang! the bird dropped the millstone on her head and crushed her to death. The father and little Marline heard it, and went out. Then a smoke, and flames, and fire rose from the place, and when that had passed there stood the little brother; and he took his father and little Marline by the hand, and all three were happy and lively, and went into the house to dinner.

The End

And that, my darling children, is why they are called The Brother's Grimm. Now turn off the light and go to sleep.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Juniper Tree (part five)

And when he had done singing he flew away. The chain he had in the right claw, and the shoes in the left claw; and he flew far away to a mill; and the mill went clipp-clapp, clipp-clapp. And in the mill there sat twenty miller's men; they were shaping a stone, and chipped away hick-hack, hick-hack, hick-hack; and the mill went clipp-clapp, clipp-clapp, clipp-clapp.

Then the bird flew and sat on a lime tree that stood before the mill, and sang-

My mother killed me.

then one left off;

My father grieved for me;

then two more left off and heard it;

My sister,

then again four left off;

little Marline,

now there were only eight chipping away;

Wept under

now only five;

the juniper tree;

now only one;

Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I.

Then the last left off, when he heard the last word. "Bird," said he, "how beautifully you sing! let me too hear that; sing me that again."Nay," said the bird (third time), "I don't sing twice for nothing. Give me the millstone, and I will sing it again." "Ay," said he, "if it belonged to me alone, you should have it." "Yes," said the others, " if he sings again he shall have it." Then the bird came down and all the twenty millers caught hold of a pole, and raised the stone up, hu, uh, upp, hu, uh, upp, hu, uh, upp! And the bird stuck his head through the hole, and took it round his neck like a collar, and flew back to the tree and sang--

My mother killed me;
My father grieved for me;
My sister, little Marline,
Wept under the juniper tree;
Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I

And when he had done singing he spread his wings, and had in his right claw, the gold chain, in his left the shoes, and round his neck the millstone, and he flew far away, to his father's house.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Juniper Tree (part four)

The bird flew away and perched upon a Goldsmith's house, and began to sing--

My mother killed me;
My father grieved for me;
My sister, little Marline,
Wept under the juniper tree;
Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I

The Goldsmith sat in his workshop, and was making a gold chain, when he heard the bird that sat upon his roof and sang; and it seemed to him so beautiful. Then he got up, and as he stepped over the sill of the door he lost one of his slippers; but he went straight up the middle of the street with one slipper and one sock on. He had his leather apron on, and in the one hand he had the gold chain and in the other the pincers, and the sun shone brightly up the street. He went and stood and looked at the bird. "Bird," said he then, "how beautifully you can sing. Sing me that song again. " "Nay," said the bird, "I don't sing twice for nothing. Give me the gold chain and I will sing it you again." "There," said the Goldsmith, "take the gold chain; now sing me that again." Then the bird came and took the gold chain in the right claw, and sat before the Goldsmith, and sang--

My mother killed me;
My father grieved for me;
My sister, little Marline,
Wept under the juniper tree;
Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I

The Shoemaker heard it, and ran outside the door in his shirt sleeves and looked up at the roof, and was obliged to hold his hands before his eyes to prevent the sun from blinding him. "Bird," said he, "how beautiful you can sing." Then he called in at the door, "Wife, come out, here's a bird; look at the bird; he just can sing beautifully." Then he called his daughter, and children, and apprentices, servant boy, and maid; and they all came up the street, and looked at the bird; oh! how beautiful he was, and he had such red and green feathers, and round about the throat was all like gold, and the eyes sparkled in his head like stars. "Bird," said the Shoemaker, "now sing me that piece again." "Nay," said the bird, "I don't sing twice for nothing; you must make me a present of something." "Wife," said the man, "go into the shop; on the top shelf there stands a pair of red shoes, fetch them down." The wife went and fetched the shoes. "There, bird," said the man; "now sing me that song again." Then the bird came and took the shoes in the left claw, and flew up on to the roof again and sang--

My mother killed me;
My father grieved for me;
My sister, little Marline,
Wept under the juniper tree;
Kwitt, kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Juniper Tree (part three)

Then the mother took the little boy and put him into a box and put it under the almond tree: but little Marline stood by, and cried and cried, and the tears all fell into the box.

Soon the father came home, and sat down to table, and said, "Where is my son?" Then the mother brought in a great big dish of stew: and little Marline cried, and could not leave off. Then the father said again, "Where is my son?" "Oh," said the mother, "he had gone across the country to Mutten; he is going to stop there a bit."

"What is he doing there? and why did he not say good-bye to me?" "Oh, he wanted to go, and asked me if he might stop there six weeks; he will be taken care of there." "Ahh," said the man, "I feel very dull; that was not right; he ought to have wished me good-bye." With that he began to eat, and said to Marline, "What are you crying for? your brother will soon come back." "Oh, wife," said he then, "how delicious this tastes; give me some more!" And he ate till all the broth was done.

Little Marline went to her box, and took from the bottom drawer her best silk handkerchief, and carried it outside the door, and cried bitter tears. Then she laid herself under the juniper tree on the green grass; and when she had laid herself there, all at once she felt quite light and happy, and cried no more. Then the juniper tree began to move, and the boughs spread out quite wide, and then went back again; just as when one is very much pleased, and claps with the hands. At the same time a sort of mist rose from the tree; in the middle of the mist it burned like a fire; and out of the fire there flew a beautiful bird, that sang very sweetly and flew high up in the air; and when it had flown away, the juniper tree was as it had been before. Then little Marline was as light and happy as if her brother were alive still; and went into the house to dinner.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Juniper Tree (part two)

With the second wife he had a daughter; but the child by the first wife was a little son, and was as red as blood and as white as snow. When the woman looked at her daughter, she loved her so much; but then she looked at the little boy, and it seemed to go right through her heart; and it seemed as if he always stood in her way, and then she was always thinking how she could get all the fortune for her daughter; and it was the Evil One who suggested it to her, so that she couldn't bear the sight of the little boy, and poked him about from one corner to another, and buffeted him here, and cuffed him there, so that the poor child was always in fear; and when he came from school he had no peace.

Once the woman had gone into the store-room and the little daughter came up and said, "Mother, give me an apple." "Yes, my child," said the woman, and gave her a beautiful apple out of the box: the box had a great heavy lid, with a great sharp iron lock. "Mother," said the little daughter, "shall not brother have one too?" That annoyed the woman, but she said, "Yes, when he comes home from school." And as she saw out the window that he was coming, it was just as if the Evil One came over her, and she snatched the apple away from her daughter again, and said, "You shall not have one before your brother." She threw the apple into the box and the Evil One made her say, in a friendly manner, "My son, will you have an apple?" and she looked at him wickedly. "Mother," said the little boy, "how horribly you look; yes, give me an apple." Then she thought she must pacify him. "Come with me," she said, and opened the lid; "Reach out an apple," and as the little boy bent into the box, the Evil One whispered to her--bang! she slammed the lid to, so that his head flew off and fell amongst the red apples. Then in her fright she thought, "Could I get that off my mind!" Then she went up into her room to the chest of drawers, and got out a white cloth from the top drawer, and she from the top drawer, and she set the head on the throat again, and tied the handkerchief round so that nothing could be seen; and placed him outside the door on a chair, and gave him the apple in his hand. After a while little Marline came in the kitchen to her mother who stood by the fire and had a kettle with hot water before her, which she kept stirring round. "Mother," said little Marline, "brother is sitting outside the door, and looks quite white, and has got an apple in his hand. I asked him to give me the apple, but he didn't answer me; then I was quite frightened."Go again, said the other, "and if he will not answer you, give him a box in the ear." Then Marline went to the brother and said, "Give me the apple;" but he was silent. Then she gave him a box on the ear, and the head tumbled off; at which she was frightened, and began to cry and sob. "I have knocked my brother's head off;" and she cried and cried, and would not be pacified. "Marline," said the mother, "what have you done? But be quiet, so that nobody may notice it; it can't be helped now; we'll bury him under the juniper tree."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Juniper Tree (part one)

-Anonymous, from Grimm's Fairy Tales (1912)

It is now long ago, perhaps two thousand years, there was a rich man who had a beautiful and pious wife; and they were very fond of one another, but had no children. Still they wished for some very much, and the wife prayed for them day and night; still they had none.

Before their house was a yard; in it stood a juniper tree, under which the woman stood once in the winter peeling an apple; and as she peeled the apple she cut her finger, and the blood dropped on the snow. "Ah!" said the woman, with a deep sigh, and she looked at the blood before her, and was very sad, "had I but a child as red as blood and as white as snow ;" and as she said that she felt quite lively; and it seemed quite as if something would come of it. Then she went into the house; and a month passed, the snow disappeared; and two months, then all was green; and three months, then came the flowers out of the ground; and four months, then all the trees in the wood squeezed up against one another, and the green boughs all grew twisted together, and the little birds sang, so that the whole wood resounded, and the blossoms fell from the trees; then the fifth month had gone, and she stood under the juniper tree, it smelt so sweet, than her heart leaped for joy, and she couldn't help falling down on her knees; and when the sixth month had passed, the fruits were large, and she was quite pleased; and the seventh month, then she snatched the berries and ate them so greedily that she was dreadfully ill; then went the eight month, and she called her husband and cried, and said, "If I die bury me under the juniper tree;" then she was quite easy, and was glad, till the next month was gone: then she had a child as white as snow and as red as blood; and when she saw it she was so delighted that she died.

Then her husband buried her under the juniper tree, and began to cry most violently; a little time, and he was easier; and when he had cried a bit more, he left off; and a little time longer, and he took another wife.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Are You Ready For No Football?

And another Super Bowl in the books. This year I was not emotionally invested in the game. I think I have reached football burn out. The football season starts in August (pregames), goes though September to November ("real" games), enters the playoff games in December, and winds-up at the beginning of February with the Super Bowl. By that point I no longer cared.

The game did start off thrillingly with Chicago running the ball back 92 yards for a touchdown on the opening play. It stayed exciting only because the game was being played in a pouring rainstorm. Lots of fumbles causing the ball to exchange hands multiple times. As game progressed the Bears (Chicago) got worse and worse and the Colts (Indianapolis) got better and better ending with the Colts winning. The Colts win must have been bittersweet for their coach Tony Dungy after the death of his son last year. He had a big smile on his face but I could not help thinking about his son and wondering what was going through the man's mind.

As usually the Super Bowl was surrounded by lots of hype with the commercials being talked about long before the players even reached Miami. And that is all it turned out to be, hype, not one of the commercials really grabbed me. None ever came close to the Apple 1984 commercial from Super Bowl XVIII.

Then there was the half-time show, which each year get bigger and bigger. This year the musical act was Prince, the little man with the big talent. At one point he sang, appropriately, Purple Rain. For me that was the best part of the televised game.

I don't know people, I think the Super Bowl has turned into Ikea furniture. Looks good on the surface but underneath it is just particle board.

The best part of the Super Bowl for me in general has always been hanging out with a bunch of people I enjoy being around. That means this year's Super Bowl, like almost all of them, was great.

(Oh, if you haven't heard yet, some people want to make the day after Super Bowl an official holiday like New Year's Day.)

Friday, February 02, 2007


Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

-Work Without Hope, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834)

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today.
-Groundhog Day (1993)

Yep, it's Groundhog Day, which means I will be in front of the TV this afternoon watching Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil in the above movie. And, FYI, Phil did not see his shadow this year and that means Phil is predicting an early spring. If only; from Phil's lips to God's ear.

(You can read Phil's official proclamation here.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins

You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.

(Dallas Morning News / Ryan Donnel)

Reporter and political columnist Molly Ivins died yesterday of breast cancer at the age of sixty-two. Molly's stuff was good, and wickedly funny, and insightful, and, at all times, passionate. Her coverage of George W. Bush was aided by the fact that she went to high school with him. She had covered his political career from the beginning and is the one who came up with "Shrub" and "Dubba" as nicknames for the man.

Some "Molly Quotes" about Bush:

-If you think his daddy had trouble with "the vision thing," wait till you meet this one.

-Everyone knows the man has no clue, but no one there has the courage to say it. I mean, good gawd, the man is as he always has been: barely adequate.

-Let me say for the umpteenth time, George W. is not a stupid man. The IQ of his gut, however, is open to debate. In Texas, his gut led him to believe the death penalty has a deterrent effect, even though he acknowledged there was no evidence to support his gut's feeling. When his gut, or something, causes him to announce that he does not believe in global warming -- as though it were a theological proposition -- we once again find his gut ruling that evidence is irrelevant. In my opinion, Bush's gut should not be entrusted with making peace in the Middle East.

-Last week, I began a sentence by saying, "If Bush had any imagination ..." and then I hit myself. Silly me.

-If, at the end of this short book, you find W. Bush's political resume a little light, don't blame us. There's really not much there. We have been looking for six years.

-The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy.

-Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.

Molly was always warning her readers about the consequences of turning complete authority of the running of this country over to our elected officials:

-What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority.

-What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols.

-Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don't much care for.

-I carry no special brief for government...many years of studying the Texas Legislature will disenchant anyone. But if you are put in charge of government, the least you can do is run it well.

-The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there.
- January 11, 2007, her last last column, Stand Up Against The Surge.

Television journalist Mike Leonard said about Ivins death, "We lost one of the greats. It's a big loss for our profession and for columnists in particular."

Amen to that.

New York Times obituary.