How do we get a Bucky, a chicken-Riot, and an itty-bitty Claire up and about? Tell them there's a treat in the other room:
How do we get a Bucky, a chicken-Riot, and an itty-bitty Claire up and about? Tell them there's a treat in the other room:
We have a trunk as a coffee table. It's attractive, sturdy and it's marked House of Representatives. It was a hand me down from my late boss, friend, and mentor Congressman Gillis Long who died many years ago. We used to joke about Mr. Long's remains being inside the trunk but that was in poor taste so I won't do it here. Oops, guess I just did. Never mind.
Anyway, Della Street is obvlivious to the trunk's origin story, she just likes posing on it:
This was one of the last times Orson Welles directed a picture at a major Hollywood studio. It's a good one, but the stories surrounding it are better than the movie itself. Orson royally pissed off Columbia Studio goniff Harry Cohn by getting Rita Hayworth to cut her hair short and dye it blond. Rita had already changed hair color from brunette to red BUT she was famous for her flowing locks. Cohn essentially blackballed Orson, which wasn't hard to do but this may have been the last nail in his career coffin.
The first image is the poster, which is kinda mundane. The lobby card is special: from the Fun House scene filmed at Playland on the Beach in San Francisco. I have fond childhood memories of it but that's all I got. it was torn down years ago.
Here's the trailer:
Dogs and humans receive a pleasurable chemical reward for running, but this quirk of brain chemistry that makes both dogs and humans love running is not universal among mammals. Ferrets, for example, derive no such benefit. The scientists who conducted the study concluded that chemical changes from running and subsequent effects on the brain help endurance-running species enjoy running. The brains of dogs and humans are primed to like endurance running, which may have provided the evolutionary mechanism necessary for us to develop such skill at it.
This study shows that dogs and humans, unlike ferrets, achieve the runner's high. A friend of mine who hates running believes the study also suggests that she is part ferret, but scientific evidence to support this claim remains elusive.
I've often wondered if Bucky would like to go on a run with me, but given his usual reaction to a walk (LEMME GO LEMME GO LEMME GO I NEED TO BE FREEEEES!) I think it's gonna be a while before he accompanies me on my rounds. Here he is last winter, too much of a little princess to touch the wet ground with his paws:
This snuggle is from Bucky for all you did for his feline friends:
Country music legend and world class eccentric George Jones has died at the age of 81.George specialized in "tears in my beer" weepers for an obvious reason: he was a drunk, albeit a charming one.
I used to hang out with a guy who knew George. Joe told me a story that I've never forgotten and I hope is true. George was a legendary drinker and carouser. He had his license suspended for a DWI. Surprise, surprise. George came up with a novel solution to his transportation issues: he drove his riding lawnmower to town. He was pulled over and asked for his license and George said: "You don't need a license to drive this thing." He was right. George offered to take a breathalyzer but the cops were so tickled by his audacity that they didn't make him do it. My friend swore that George swore that he'd have passed the test.
Again, I have no idea if this ripping yarn was true or not but it's a good one. Here are a few George Jones classics:
Yeah, I know it's a paper flower that young Della Street got ahold of but it's floral nonetheless. It's the last day of kitty week but not unlike the Honey Badger, Della doesn't give a shit unless something's in it for her. Where did I go wrong? So, donate something to spite Della:
I'll give REM the last word with this flowery tune from right before they became big pop stars:
The Bush lieberry is opening tomorrow in Dallas. It's perfect that my least favorite recent President's lieberry/mausoleum is opening in one of my least favorite cities in the known universe. There's probably a worse town on Trafalmadore or one of the Stans but I doubt it...
The lieberry opening has brought on a wave of W revisionism. The twerpy dullard David Gregory told us on the NBC Nightly News that Bush tweren't so bad even though he strained to find some positive accomplishments. The main revisionist line is that Bush kept us "safe from terrorism" but there's always a footnote, AFTER 9/11. That's a huge shoe they're dropping y'all; too big even for King Kong or Shaq...
The footnote/caveat reminds me of something that happened when I was a 1L at Tulane Law School way back in the Mesozoic period. I had a very entertaining Torts teacher named Tom Carbonneau who seemed to have stock in Coca-Cola since he drank at least 3 Diet Cokes during every class. Gulp.
Anyway, Torts professors *love* posing convoluted hypothetical questions and encourage their students to do likewise. A conservative student whose name I forget (not David Vitter, he was a year ahead of me but was a notorious asshole even then) posed a hypo involving nuclear power: "Barring Chernobyl, it has a great safety record." That's a caveat/footnote that's just as absurd as "he kept us safe AFTER 9/11." I wonder if this dude wound up working in the Bush White House or got hitched to Dana Perino who has been revisionisting her ass off this week...
Barring the bank meltdown, the Iraq War, the Katrina response, it goes on and on and on, deep into the long dark night of Bush's misrule:
The original Beatles "butcher cover" has become highly collectible and keeps turning up on teevee shows like the Antiques Roadshow, Auction Kings and Pawn Stars. It is rare and hideous, and born out of John Lennon's boredom with conventional photo shoots and unhappiness with the way Capitol Records messed with their catalogue. Capitol, however, spared the Beatles career suicide by quickly withdrawing the cover and replacing it with a really stupid and dorky one.
The first time I heard about the original cover, I tried peeling back the edge of my copy of Yesterday and Today. No ugly bloody babies underneath. Oh well. I prefer the UK versions of the Beatles' mid-period albums anyway. Here's a before and after shot:
In other news, the revised gun safety bill is being debated in the Senate today. The Manchin-Toomey compromise is watered down but still worthwhile. I am not usually one to look favorably on symbolic votes or actions, but not on gun violence related issues. The most important thing is to beat the NRA once even if the measure isn't everything that we were hoping for. It is imperative to break their aura of invincibility; once that happens we can really get to work.
If nothing else, passing any gun control measure will prove those fuckers at Politico wrong yet again. That is another reason I wrote Senator Landrieu urging her to support the bill. They've written off her re-election chances so why not shove this up their ass? I am constantly frustrated with Senator Landrieu but every 6 years, I look around and decide to vote for her again since the alternatives are so unspeakable. She *did* vote for the ACA and may well support the gun compromise. I wish I were more optimistic about her and marriage equality-which she has signalled support for as a human being-but there's no way she can change that position and win in 2014, alas. We have a heavy concentration of hardcore pre-Vatican council Catholics in Southeast Louisiana and Protestant bible bangers in the rest of the state. Being pro-choice and pro-civil union are among the reasons that she's never gotten more than 52% of the vote even when her opponent is a joke. Of course, we re-elected Bitter Vitter, so our voters clearly have a lively sense of humor...
Where was I? Oh yeah, I hope the pressure from the awesome Newtown families continues to help progress towards handing the NRA its first Congressional defeat in nearly 20 years. They have had a powerful impact on the debate as anyone who saw the clip of big, tough Joe Manchin tongue-tied in their presence last week can attest. Perhaps they'll have the same effect in the House. Boner is a weeper, after all. But that will be a much tougher nut house to crack and I say that point blank:
I don't run marathons.
I have friends who do, and their names were the first ones I plugged into the marathon site after explosions turned the finish line into a crime scene. None of them were running in Boston today, but they run, and the first picture I saw was of a man with his legs blown off, and all I could think was that that man is a runner.
Running's weird. It's strange and hypnotic and cultish; I used to joke to a runner friend that she was just telling me all the work would feel good eventually and really nobody wanted to admit that the emperor had no clothes and this sucked. I think it's because it's solitary. It's just you and the road, you and the treadmill, you and your playlist. You against yourself: Your time, your pace. You can run in a group but make no mistake: YOU are the runner. Eventually it all pinpoints to you, your body, the song in your head or the sound of the street, and the pounding of your feet on the pavement.
Here's what I felt when I ran three miles outside for the first time: Like I was going to fucking die, first of all. Like I could lie down in the pile of leaves under that tree there and never finish the route, and be happy with that decision. Like my left hamstring and my right lung were going to mutiny. Like this was going to hurt like a motherfucker tomorrow. Like this was the dumbest idea I'd ever had.
And like I was the only person on the face of the earth. Like I was the last person left, just me, and the only sound on earth was the sound of my harsh breathing, and one block more. One block more. One block more. Always another step forward, always a little bit farther than I thought I could go, always just a second longer. One more hill. One more song on the list. One more, one more, one more. Until I was rounding the corner and could see my building, and knew I was home.
Someone turned home for those runners into smoke and screams and carnage and fear. Those people were runners and the finish line is home and someone took that away. Dozens of them are wounded, badly. That man, with his legs blown off, that man was a runner. I don't know what running meant to him but I know what it means to me.
It means solace. It means accomplishment. It means I can do what I used to tell myself I couldn't do, and it means I can do anything I want to do, and it means I'm enough, me and the pavement and my shoes and my playlist, we're enough to get something done. It means I'm okay, and someone stole that today.
Lindham said he and other runners were halted on the course as police tried to determine what was going on.
“It became apparent that this was something big. They started yelling at us to get the hell off the course,” Lindham said. “Then we saw other runners coming in our direction, yelling things, and they were obviously very scared.”
Lisa Vasallo, 45, of Dedham, was in the tunnel leading to the final stretch when police stopped runners. They waited for word that is was safe to continue, and then heard the news that there had been explosions. Residents from the houses along the route brought out food and water for the runners.
“My first thought was my children,” said Vasallo, breaking into tears. “I knew they were at the finish line.” She was later reunited with them.
I followed Twitter for hours this afternoon and read most of what I could get my hands on, like everybody else. I donated and posted and retweeted and then I did the only thing I could think of. I went for a run.
The Midget came creeping down the stairs around 6 a.m. It was still dark and the room was quiet.
“Can I say goodbye to Abby?”
I pulled myself off the fold-out bed and smiled half of a smile at her.
She went by the cage, only to have the bunny start to flap and flail, sending the Midget streaking back to me.
I petted her head. “It’s OK, honey. Abby’s just scared.”
“Did you stay here all night with her, Daddy?”
“Yes. She wasn’t lonely.”
She went over to the edge of the cage and whispered something to the bunny before running upstairs.
“I don’t want her to be alone,” my wife explained to me.
I sighed. Dammit. I knew this was going to happen.
The Missus had been trolling the house rabbit society websites again and found a person looking to place a few lop-ear rabbits. She had decided that if one rabbit was good, two would be better.
My logic was that I’d pretty much ponied up about as far as I was going to go when it came to pets, so this was kind of a shitty thing to do to me.
Still, to keep the peace, we agreed to meet this woman and her rabbits. Instead of going to a home this time, we met at an animal shelter with a “friend pen.” This would allow the rabbits to meet on neutral ground and avoid territorial spats.
The first thing we noticed about these rabbits was that they were giant. They had to be at least twice the size of our mini-rex.
Second, they were dumb as shit.
We placed Abby in the pen with the first one, who just stared at her. It looked like an awkward blind date between two gawky teens.
The second one wasn’t much better. He tried to sit on her before waddling away and peeing in a corner of the pen. Abby grunted her disapproval and tried to hop away, only to have this behemoth shove her toward the piss like it was some sort of gift.
The woman grabbed her rabbit, and tossed some paper towels on top of the urine. She then added rabbit number three.
“Third time is the charm,” she said with a weak level of humorous optimism.
The third time was, indeed the charm.
Abby was sniffing at the paper towels when the third rabbit, the largest of the group came over and attempted to mount her. She flipped on him and ended up sitting on top of the paper towel.
The other rabbit then got more excited about the pee than the sex and began bullying her. Despite having no interest in the pee, Abby was in no way going to be pushed around by this dink.
She raised her hackles and began to thump loudly. The other rabbit reciprocated.
“Oh, no…” the woman began. “We have to watch out for…”
And they started to go at it. I’ve never seen rabbits fight before. Trust me. You don’t want to see it.
The woman managed to grab her animal away while Abby jumped about thumping as if to say, “Yeah, BITCH! You want some more of this you FUCKER?”
“Well, if they get to know each other a little more,” she began.
“Oh, yeah. Totally.” I added. “We’ll have to discuss it but we’ll get back to you.”
About six seconds later, we were in the car and on the way home. The rabbit continued grunting from the carrier. My wife was silent.
After that, Abby gave us the bunny butt for about a week or two. Eventually, all was forgiven, but the underlying truth remained.
She was the queen of everything and being single was just fine, thank you.
The Missus came downstairs next.
“How is she?”
“She’s still alive, but not good.”
“The vet opens at 7. I can call in to work and take her.”
“No. that’s OK,” I told her. “I don’t have to be into work today right away. I’ll do it.”
“You hate this stuff.”
“Yeah.” Pause. I looked down at the bunny and then back up at my wife. “Some things are Daddy things.”
“Seriously? Macho shit now?”
“Help me get her into the carrier and I’ll do what I have to.”
The Midget came downstairs and said her goodbyes. I couldn’t keep the tears back. What the hell was wrong with me?
“Goodbye, Abby. I’ll miss you.”
My wife and child then left. I was alone with the carrier.
“I’ll miss you too… fucking rodent…”
The vet was only about two blocks away. It was one of those ridiculously cold mornings, though, and every step across the parking lot felt like a mile.
I walked through the door, placed the carrier on the desk and began to try to explain that I needed the bunny put to sleep.
Every word caught in my throat. My nose began to run. My chest locked up with a giant knot near my heart.
“My… rabbit… had… a… stroke…” I managed to gasp out to the woman at the desk.
This person was everything a desk worker at an animal shelter shouldn’t be. That’s about the only way I could describe her. She wasn’t cold, but she was daft. She had a complete lack of tact and couldn’t quite wrap her head around some basic human decency. She had to be in her mid 50s, so she must have seen something like this somewhere in her life. At the very least, she didn't have youthful ignorance as an excuse.
“Oh,” she said in a cheery voice, like I just said I was bringing in doughnuts. “We don’t have a vet in for another hour!”
I reached for a tissue as I tried to figure out what was going to happen next.
“Now what is wrong with it?” she asked.
It was a fairly pedestrian question that for some reason galvanized my ire.
“SHE,” I began, emphasizing and differentiating between the use of pronouns, “had a stroke. She needs to be put down.”
The woman had this dazed and confused look on her face. I had to pause and look around. This was a vet’s office, right? I didn’t accidentally wander into a fucking ice cream shop, right?
“Well, hmm…” she said, tapping a fingernail on the desk. “I guess… Hmm…” Tap. Tap. Tap.
“Do you really have to be here when it gets the procedure?”
“Yes,” I hissed. “I need to be with her.” More tears, more snot and more anger, just building.
“Oh. Mmm. Do you live near by?”
“Yes, just a couple blocks away.”
“You know, you can just leave it.”
That was it. That was the end.
I’m not a pet person. I’m not an animal person. I’m not exactly the world’s most sentimental person. However, anyone with half a brain and an ounce of compassion would have been better than this woman. I get that we’re not all equipped to handle everything we do at a job, but this was ridiculous.
“Her name is Abby,” I started.
“Look, lady, she’s not FUCKING LUGGAGE! I’m not going to leave her here to die alone. She suffered a stroke, she’s in horrible agony and that’s nothing compared to the agony my kid is going through, which is killing me. If you think I’m just dropping her off, you’re out of your fucking mind. Figure this out.”
Stunned and yet still lacking comprehension, the woman walked to the back and talked to her boss. Abby stirred a bit. I could see her one eye through the holes in the carrier.
Please, it said. Don’t leave me.
The woman returned with the same stupid look on her face.
“If you bring… If you come back at 8 a.m., the doctor will get you in right away.”
I picked up my carrier and walked out into the parking lot. The wind whipped through me and blew through the carrier.
“I’m sorry it’s so cold, sweetie. I’m sorry.”
“She’s going to freeze. We have to do something.”
The ice storm that had decimated most of Northwest Indiana had knocked the power out to our house. I’d managed to get a kerosene heater and get it working. It was late at night on the second day and I was bone tired.
The Missus, however, was concerned about Abby. If we left her in her room, where temperatures were rapidly approaching 40 degrees, it was not going to be any great shakes for her. However, given the size of the cage she had (I had to build it in the room) we couldn’t just move her. We also had trouble in terms of figuring out what we’d do with her once we got her into the family room.
To solve the latter problem, I built a two-wall cage out of metal wire squares. We’d capture her in the corner of the room and set her up in there with us.
Solving the former problem wasn’t going to be easy.
Armed with nothing but flashlights, we closed all the doors to all the rooms along the way. We propped up the “rabbit gates” in other spots to help create a funnel of sorts that would force her to go where we wanted her to.
We then went into the room opened her cage and let her out.
Immediately, she noticed something was wrong and began to freak out.
We stomped our feet behind her and waved the light nearby. She freaked and ran in every direction before finally darting down the hall toward where we wanted her to go.
Success. Sort of.
Once she was in the room, she didn’t want to go into the corner. I backed her in with the two walls, but she kept getting around them. She hid under the chairs and behind the couch. Unlike dogs, rabbits are rarely enticed by food or gifts, so we couldn’t bribe her.
Finally, I threw a towel at her and managed to cover her. I wrangled her to the ground as The Missus set up the cage. We tossed her in there as she grunted and hopped around.
The thing I remember most about that whole experience was the sound of her hopping around on newspaper we put on the floor in her area. Every morning around 5 a.m., I was woken by the sound of crunching paper.
It’s odd what we remember.
After one of the longest hours I’ve had in recent memory, I went back to the vet with Abby in tow.
The idiot was still at the desk.
“The doctor can examine it before he does the procedure,” she said as she pulled up a billing screen. It felt like she was trying to sell me undercoating on my new car.
“Her. He can examine her.”
“Look, I’m not a vet, but she’s not going to make it. We just need to do this. Please.”
“What would you like us to do with it?” she asked, apparently suffering from the condition that Guy Pearce had in Momento.
My eyes ached from the tears. My head was pounding. Everything hurt. I didn’t have the strength to tell this woman that she should go to Hell and take a left.
“Well we have several options for disposal. If you take it with you, that’s free. Or we can cremate it with other animals. You won’t get the ashes back. However, if you want a private service, we can return the ashes to you. That’s a bit more pricy…”
I had always imagined that the end would come with me and a shovel in our expansive backyard. A small marker and that would be it. However, the cold snap after a short warm up and melt had turned the ground to concrete. Add that to the fact we were trying to sell the house and there were too many barriers to a proper burial.
Also, there was no way I was digging up the rabbit and bringing it with us if we sold, despite what I’m sure would be anguished sobs from my child.
“The group ceremony will be fine.”
“Now, we require payment up front. The cost will be..”
I flipped my credit card at her. “Lady, just charge me whatever. Just please stop talking.”
She looked offended and yet somehow not smart enough to fully realize why she was offended.
Finally, the assistant showed up and took us back to the room.
“She had a stroke,” I managed to say.
“Oh, no. I’m so sorry," she said as she looked at the carrier. "It’s OK, little one…”
Over the past couple years, we could tell Abby was getting older. Her fur began to gray a bit more. She didn’t want to come out of her cage as much. Her hopping was labored, even as she got in and out of the cage.
I could tell the rabbit wasn’t long for this world.
The Midget took notice, but in a much more positive way.
“I can pet Abby more now! She doesn’t run away as fast.”
Aside from that positive, most of what we were seeing was negative. She had trouble getting into the litter box. She didn’t seem to be able to see us as well.
After one of our myriad hermit crab funerals, The Midget asked, “Will Abby die some day?”
“Yes, sweetie. We all die some day.”
“Oh no…” She wept.
This was an odd change from a few years earlier when she wanted a puppy. We explained that we couldn’t get a puppy because for the most part puppies and bunnies don’t get along and Abby was here first.
The Midget had a different tactic.
“Oh. So can we go to the pet shop and trade her in on a dog?”
The woman led me into a small room where she pulled Abby out of the carrier. I explained the situation for about the fifth time today, but this time it somehow felt better because I could tell she gave a shit.
She explained to me how this would work, how the shot would be in the abdomen and how it would be over soon. She said the doctor will be in shortly, but she didn’t leave me alone.
“How old is she?” the woman asked.
“Twelve, we think. She was a rescue.”
“Wow…” the woman said quietly. “That’s really a long life for a bunny.”
The doctor arrived and explained what he was going to do. It was all happening in slow motion, but it was still happening really fast. It’s an incongruent explanation that is both accurately descriptive and yet temporally impossible.
I watched as he slowly pressed a needle into her white belly and pushed a full syringe of something blue into her. She didn't even twitch.
He checked her over and over again with a stethoscope. A minute later, she was gone.
“There, there, honey,” he said as he petted her. “No more suffering.”
He placed his hand over her head and tried to close her eyes. The eye wouldn’t close. He tried again with the same result.
Stubborn, little cuss…
“You can have as much time as you need,” the woman told me as she and the doctor retreated from the room.
I stood there for a minute, sobbing and then trying to figure out why I was. After all this time, I guess maybe this was why I hated pets.
I did in death what I couldn’t do in life. I petted her. Her fur was soft, but her skin was loose and old. Her bones were easy to feel under the coat.
Goodbye, Abby. I put the towel over her and left everything behind.
The doctor saw me coming down the hall, and said, “We’re sorry for your loss.”
The assistant said the same thing as she directed me to a back door. At least I didn’t have to see the idiot at the desk again.
I got in the car, plugged in my iPod and hit play. After some brief fiddling, I found the song.
Ave Maria. It played the whole ride into town.
My phone buzzed. It was my wife.
“How r u?” the text read.
“Fine. Done.” I sent back.
“You OK?” the next note read.
About five hours later, I went to pick the Midget up from school. She looked better than she did in the morning. I’m sure I looked worse.
We got in the car and it wasn’t long until I heard, “Daddy?”
“Did you take Abby to the doctor?”
“Is she all better?” she asked with a child-like optimism in her voice.
“No, honey. The doctor couldn’t fix her.”
“Did he have to give her a bye-bye shot?”
I gripped the wheel harder to prevent myself from driving off the road. The tears were back.
“Yes, honey, but she’s better now. She doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“Is she going to see Jesus and Lucky?”
“I’m sure she is.”
“Yes. She was a good bunny, honey. I’m sure she’s just fine.”
“I’m going to get to see Jesus some day.”
“Yes, peanut, you are.”
“But you’ll see him first because you’re old.”
I laughed. It was probably the first time all day.
(In case you missed part one, here you go.)
The first night with Abby was a long one. She was in a new place for the third time in less than six months. She was in another enclosure, but without other bunnies around her. Before we turned off the lights for the night, I remember looking at her.
She was perfectly still except for her nose, which was twitching at about a million miles a minute.
She was scared.
The Missus and I went to bed, but I was restless.
“I wonder how she’s doing,” I mused aloud after rolling around in bed and tangling myself into the sheets about six ways to Tuesday.
“I thought you didn’t want her or care,” my wife needled back.
Shortly after The Missus began to snore, I slipped out of bed and walked into the bunny’s room.
“It’s going to be OK,” I whispered. “We’re OK people.”
The next morning, my wife found me asleep on the floor next to the cage with Abby sniffing me.
We have to tell her. The words rang in my head. We have to tell her.
My wife was right. I know what it was like to learn the truth much too late in life.
When I was about three, my grandmother had a old poodle that was on his last legs. On some random Friday when we came to visit, I noticed that the dog was missing.
“Where’s Pierre?” I asked.
“He ran away,” my grandmother said without missing a beat.
For the next several months, I’d sit on the porch at her house whenever we visited, hoping to spot him if he came home. Eventually I gave up the ghost when I was about eight or nine, figuring the dog had died somewhere, wandering a strange road.
When I was about 25, we were at some gathering at Grandma’s house when the topic of the dog came up.
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s too bad he ran away…”
My younger cousin scoffed. “The hell are you talking about? They put him to sleep.”
I just glared back at him. “The hell do you know? You weren’t even alive when they had the dog.”
The table got quiet. I looked up at my grandmother, who had this guilty-as-hell look on her face.
“We never… We didn’t quite know when to tell you.”
After that, it became a running gag at the house, but the sting never quite went away.
As The Missus went upstairs to pull the kid from the tub, I did my best to clean up the downstairs near the cage and calm the still-flailing rabbit.
When I got upstairs, my child was still sobbing about her hermit crab.
This was not going to be easy.
As my wife explained that something was wrong with the rabbit, The Midget’s eyes grew even bigger and filled with more tears.
“Nooooo! Not Abby...” she wailed.
We took her downstairs and let her pet the rabbit a few times. Our presence seemed to calm the bunny down. Still, it was at least an hour past the kid’s bedtime and she had school in the morning.
“But Abby can’t be alone!” she pleaded. “She’s scared. Please can I stay?”
My wife looked at the clock and looked at me. She started to say something to our child, who had suddenly been surrounded by about ten used and crumpled tissues. I stepped in quickly.
“Honey, you have to go to bed…”
“But I’m scared to be alone! And Abby’s scared…”
“Honey, please listen. Daddy will stay down here tonight with Abby. You can sleep with Mommy and we’ll take care of everything else tomorrow.”
She sniffed back a river of snot. “Oh… kay…”
My wife looked at me with a mix of sympathy and concern.
“You shouldn’t have to do this… I can…”
“It’s OK. Sometimes there are things a Daddy has to do.”
As the rest of the family made its way upstairs, I pulled out the hide-a-bed and nestled in for a long night.
After only a few short months, Abby clearly became part of the family. In that, I mean she earned several nicknames and became stubborn.
She was Princess Abby when she was simply being aloof.
She was Thumper when she was loudly thumping her disapproval at something we were doing.
She was The Rodent when I was pissed about something she had done, including chewing on the baseboards, the carpet and the furniture.
She was Princess Consuelo von Fuzzy Butt when she was being the Queen of Everything.
She wouldn’t allow us to touch her, but we didn’t need a bunny dictionary to understand her moods.
When she was happy, she’d run at top speed around the house, spirling her ass into the air in what is known as a binky.
When she was upset, she’d thump her back leg hard against the floor, explaining that she found our work to be dissatisfactory in terms of cage cleaning or food provision.
When she just had enough of us, she’d use a technique that rabbit enthusiasts refer to as “bunny butt,” a form of shunning that would make the most fundamental Amish man proud.
Her attitude and her nicknames converged into one we often used.
“Stubborn little cuss…”
It was a long night of brief lapses of consciousness for both the rabbit and me.
She’d be silent for a long time and I’d drift into a dreamless sleep. Then, she’s spasm and I’d jolt awake, offering the only solace I could:
“Shh… Shhh… Shh… Shhhhh…” And she’d settle in once again.
And so it went for seven restless hours.
Around 5 a.m., I had the thought that was part merciful and part selfish.
Just. Let. Go. It’s OK.
It had to hurt like hell. She had to be scared as hell. She was 12 years old, which in rabbit years defies logic.
She flopped and flopped again.
“Honey,” I whispered. “It’s OK. It’s fine. You can let go.”
She went silent. A minute passed. Then five. Then ten.
She flailed about again.
Stubborn little cuss…
There’s something not quite right with Abby, my wife told me one afternoon. Can you take her to the vet and see what’s up?
Easier said than done.
The rabbit hated being touched and held. Even worse, she was fast as hell. We’d had her for about two years at this point and had managed to stave off most of the “bunny-care” problems that various books and websites had mentioned.
However, this time, she wasn’t eating and her poop was really clumpy, two signs of an intestinal blockage or constipation.
Neither of these things was good for a rabbit.
After a good game of “Chase the rabbit with a blanket,” I corralled her into a carrier.
The vet, a decent man who might have seen a rabbit once in his life, noted that Abby was likely constipated, based on her symptoms. The solution was to give her a laxative gel via an oral injection once a day for three or four days.
Unfortunately, the man explained, he didn’t have any for rabbits, but he did have some dog laxative, which was essentially a combination of Vaseline and liver paste.
He handed me a plastic syringe and a tube of this stuff and sent me packing.
When I got home, I gave her the stuff. It was easy enough because she was still freaked out from the vet and the car ride.
Of course, the taste of liver appeals to rabbits the way the idea of gay marriage appeals to Scalia, so she spent the rest of the afternoon slapping at her face with her paws and trying to shake this stuff out of her head.
The next day, we had to do it again. I had the benefit of having the Missus help me. Abby had the benefit of experience and mobility.
Upon my attempt to reach her, Abby darted out of the cage and began flying around the room in a serpentine pattern. The Missus held the injection as I tried to snag this bounding bunny.
She dove under the desk in the room. I chased her out. She hid behind some boxes. I tossed them aside.
Finally, I had her in a corner from which she could not escape. I went down on my knees to get her.
Knowing her only way out was through me, Abby darted right in between my legs.
With a goalie-like instinct, I snapped the five-hole shut, trapping her between my thighs, her head poking out near my ass.
According to my wife, it was quite a Kodak moment.
“NOW, GODDAMMIT! NOW!” I yelled.
The Missus dove toward my ass with the injection. Abby whipped her head around and spit and grunted and bunny cussed us. About half of the liver stuff got into or onto the rabbit. The other half was all over my legs and butt.
“DONE!” my assistant yelled as I relaxed my grip.
Abby grunted twice and darted back into her cage, slapping the crud off of her face with her forepaws.
I took of my pants and saw the wreckage my wife and rabbit had wrought. It looked like I had been attacked by a grease gun filled with liverwurst.
“Fuck it,” I said to my wife. “If she isn’t unstopped by now, she’s not gonna be. We’re not doing that again.”
That was the last time she needed to go to the vet.
It's been a big week for egregious malakatude. Tim Graham, director of something, something at the Malakatude Research Center is the 3rd candidate I've considered but he takes the cake. (From pie to cake in less than 24 hours. How do ya like dem apples?) I know very little about him other than, like most wingnuts, he "don't know much about history, don't know much biology," which is why he wins the booby prize as malaka of the week.
Graham not only put his foot in his mouth but he did so on the Tweeter Tube where he commented about Karen Finney's selection as the host of a new MSNBC show on the weekends. Okay, time to end the mystery:
MSNBC touting Karen Finney as another African-American host. Would the average viewer be able to guess that? Or is Boehner a shade more tan.
I decided to be merciful and not post a screen shot of Graham who is a pasty white boy but for those of you who are unfamiliar with the lovely and talented Ms. Finney here's a picture:
That's right, Karen Finney is a light skinned black woman who is related to Robert E. Lee on one side of her family. In the bad old days of Jim Crow, one drop of African blood made you black and inferior as far as the law was concerned. I wrote a long paper in law school about the history of anti-miscegenation law and racial classifications in Louisiana and learned all the bizarre and, uh, colorful terms applied to mixed race folks: octoroons, quadroons and griffes to name but a few. Anyone familiar with NOLA Creole society would look at Karen Finney and declare that she'd pass the "brown paper bag test" since she's so fair.
Where am I going with all this historical ephemera? Ms. Finney is classified as African American because that's how our society sees her. I firmly believe that race is fundamentally a societal and political construct as opposed to a biological one. The world would be a much better place if we didn't believe in race but we do. It's a highly sensitive topic and an inappropriate one for winger jocularity. That's why Tim Graham is malaka of the week.
Since I've already quoted him, I'll let Sam Cooke have the last word:
I love April Fool's Day and have been involved in a few pranks on the interwebs over the years. I was uninspired this year and it's also gotten harder to fool folks: The Onion usually gets there first.
The British press has a long tradition of April Foolery in their print editions. This year, the Guardian is liveblogging today's pranktastic events.
That's all I got for you unless you want to contribute to Friends of Hamas or the Tyrion Lannister defense fund or something...
HOLDEN: I know this sounds pretentious as hell, but I like to think of us as artists. And I'd like to get back to doing something more personal - like our first book.
ALYSSA: Well when are you going to do that?
HOLDEN: As soon as we have something personal to say.
The term “Spring Break” has been a misnomer around my house for years. Since I stopped taking Easter Vacation trips with my folks somewhere around age 15, the “break” usually meant a chance to catch up on work, take on a part-time job or find some other thing that would suck up what should have been a week of freedom.
At the front of this previous Spring Break, we had one of those family obligations that we hadn’t really looked forward to as much as most people would imagine. My grandfather was turning 90 and Mom’s whole side of the family was heading out to Arizona for a visit. Thus, I packed up The Missus, The Midget and myself and headed out for a four-day break that would at least reassure me that somewhere on this god-forsaken planet, the temperature was above freezing.
The trip was fine, the weather was good and The Midget spent more time in the water than out of it. I loved recalling the days in which all you needed to be happy was a hotel with a pool. Hell, my parents could have taken me to Uzbekistan for a break, for all I cared, as long as the place had a pool.
We landed in Milwaukee, took the two-hour drive home and I prepared for what should have been a decent week, free of most problems. Somewhere along the drive home, The Midget fell asleep in the car and The Missus and I mused about what kinds of fun we’d be having if we could get some time to ourselves. I’d do some writing, she’d do some knitting and we’d probably get some minor satisfaction out of being done with the hard part of break.
When we got inside, The Midget went upstairs to check on her hermit crabs and I went downstairs to water the pets. Archer still had plenty of meal worms and a “Who the fuck are you?” look on his gecko face. Abby’s bowl was full and her water was burbling into the bowl, but I couldn’t see her in the shadowy room. I heard her moving, so I snapped on the light.
Something wasn’t right. Even with that “mercy C” I earned in zoology in college, I knew that much. Her leg was tilting out of her cage. The pet who never needed litter box training had made a massive pile on the floor of her cage and the carpet next to her. She was laying on her side, a small fore-paw trembling.
I heard a wail from upstairs that I recognized as having
come from my child, so I hustled up the stairs. The Midget was wrapped around
my wife’s leg sobbing.
“One of her hermit crabs died,” The Missus said in a hushed tone.
“Why don’t you put her in the tub and come downstairs?” I said in that “you need to come with me right now” tone parents have learned to master.
“Oh… OK… but.”
“Get down here. Seriously.”
If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past five years (man, that time flew by…), you know two immutable truths about me: I hate pets and I’ve reported on crime long enough to have stronger intestinal fortitude than a billy goat.
How we ended up with Abby the bunny was completely my wife’s doing.
Somewhere around Year One of our marriage, she was lonely for a pet or a kid. I think at the time, both of us kind of viewed a rabbit as a test balloon: If you don’t kill or severely damage this thing, chances are you’ll be OK with a kid.
After studying the greater Indianapolis area for rabbit breeders and other rabbit folks, she found a number for a rabbit rescue foundation. Turns out, a lot of people buy rabbits for little kids around Easter, realize that rabbits aren’t what they thought they were and then dump the bunnies off at shelters, many of which don’t have a “no-kill” policy.
Abby had likely been an Easter bunny for a number of reasons. She was a brown and white mini-Rex, with a brown outer coat and white apron of fuzz down her belly. She was at least a year or two old as she had been fixed.
The ad for her noted that she was “very affectionate” and “demanded constant petting,” two things we later found not to be true at all. She feared being touched or held or petted. She also had a small scar that ran down the back of her spine near her neck, a likely result of being grabbed at by an impatient child or a negligent adult. She was constantly in a mode of dynamic tension, seeming to want to spring in any direction that didn’t pose a specific threat.
Despite my protestations, I agreed to meet with the “bunny mommy” as she called herself. The woman, Amanda, had about three dozen rabbits and a house that smelled like piss and hay. When we got into the room with Abby, our job was to sit quietly and see if she came over to sniff us. Three hours later, she kind of did.
My wife was bound and determined that this would be our pet. I eventually allowed my distaste wane into malaise, so we agreed with Amanda that Abby would be ours.
The process would take a couple weeks. They’d check us out, check out our home and eventually bring us the rabbit. The cost was $40 plus some sort of fees or other that added ten bucks to the bill. The Missus agreed to pay it.
We parted company and I now had to figure out where the hell we were going to put this thing.
With the child in the tub, The Missus came down the stairs in a “what is your damage?” kind of trot.
When she saw the cage, she knew.
At first I thought Abby had a broken leg. I figured she had gotten it trapped in the cage somehow and snapped it. However, after I pushed the leg back into the cage, it dawned on me something else was wrong.
She couldn’t get up.
She was laying flat on her left side, her right eye wide open to the point where we could see some white around her brown iris. Her right paws flapped as they tried unsuccessfully to pull her onto her haunches.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” I began. “I came down and she was like this. She’s still alive but…”
The Missus looked at me with clinical precision and yet a tinge of finality based sadness.
“I think she had a stroke.”
Abby flopped harder as if to say, “No! NO! I’m fine. I’m really… I’m…”
She collapsed. Her nose pulled hard at the air as she tried to breathe.
The adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” came to fruition with this rescue rabbit. First, there was the adoption fee. Then there was the food bucket, the water bucket, the litter box and more. Finally, we needed a place to put it.
The Missus pointed out a bi-level “enclosure” that would allow the bunny to poop on one floor of the cage and sleep in the upstairs level. It looked solid. It looked decent.
“How much?” I asked.
“Only $450 plus shipping!” she said as if her excitement could outweigh the cost.
“Fuck that!” I spit out, as she suddenly glared at me. It was instinct more than anything. There was no way in hell I was spending half a house payment on a rabbit condo.
Instead, we found some plans on how to build one of these things. I spent two days in the garage wiring one together with old metal pieces, cloth-covered wood and zip ties. By the time we were done, it looked just as good as the real thing.
“I bet she’ll like it,” The Missus said.
“I know I do,” I said. “It’s not $450.”
She just sighed at me.
I have seen some of the most truly horrific things a reporter can imagine, short of spending time in a war zone or in the ghetto. Farming accidents, fatality accidents, kids getting run over by cars… I never once threw up. I never once teared up.
“We need…” I began and there it was.
I wasn’t even crying. It was like my eyes were just overfilling beyond capacity for some reason. It felt like blood pouring out of two holes in my face.
Abby flopped again, her nails skittering on the plastic part of the flooring in her cage.
I pulled it together.
“We need to find an all-night vet,” I told my wife. “She can’t stay like this. She needs to be put down.”
The Missus began to look online, only to find that one of the downsides of small-town life is that your options are limited.
She got a small towel instead and placed it over the bunny’s quivering body, trying to add some warmth and dignity to her.
She then looked at me.
“We have to go upstairs. We have to tell her.”
So Claire decided to get whatever hell-flu-cold-plague is going around Casa Athenae again this week (I went to a conference over the weekend and brought back my third virus in two months, WTF) and Mr. A and I have spent most of the last couple of days anxiously watching her. She's perked back up, is eating on her own and kicking the ass of her favorite toy, so I think she's going to be just fine:
These are my friend Kevin's kitties looking pitiful for classic feline reasons. They all hate suitcases.
Cam is the tabby and Robert is the black beast. They shouldn't pout: they have a good home after being adopted by Kevin from the Louisiana SPCA.
Picture by Kevin and post title too.
Riot and Bucky wrestle on the bed, I break it up, they go right back to it. BOYS.
I got into a discussion about Freddie Mercury on the parade route the other day with my friends Leigh and Cait. It happened during the Irish Channel St Patrick's Day parade in between dodging cabbages and drunken Irishmen. Cait is18 weeks preggers so we were drinking for her as well as trying to get the walking groups to give her peck on the cheek to the chant of "kiss the pregnant Irish lady." It was hilarious at the time. Guess you had to be there...
Anyway, I don't remember much of the Freddie-chat because I had an epic encounter that day with Michael Collins, the whiskey, not the dead political leader. The next morning this picture had been retweeted to me via theretronaut:
I am your father, Freddie and Flash Gordon was your mother:
If the Cult of the Red Beanie is looking for a preposterously unconventional candidate for the papacy, I'm available. I may be a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage atheist who was never a Catholic but I did costume as a Cardinal on Mardi Gras day in 2007:
No, those are not nuns, they were the Krewe of Anna Nicole Smith, and if you insist on asking, I was not the daddy.
Btw, I'd like my smoke signal to be red:
The power of the Tweeter Tube re-asserted itself today. One minute the water was running, the next it was not. The NOLA twitter squad was on the job and I quickly learned that it was an East Bank (of the river) outage. It took City Hall quite some time to comment and NOLA.com was too busy being cutting edge hipster douchebags to notice for 40-45 minutes. Way to, uh, cover the waterfront, y'all.
I've decided to do a bit more NOLA-centric blogging here. A has encouraged me to do so in the past and pandering to my editrix is always a good idea. I love typing and saying editrix. Besides, today's water fuck up is your future America. Ignore your infrastructure at your own peril. Jeez, I sound like Rachel Maddow, which is good as long as I don't find myself rooting for Tom Brady...
One more thing. One of my twitter pals posted a link from the Beeb gushing over NOLA becoming a "boutique city." Guess that means we sell overpriced frocks and $75 dog collars...
*pokes head in door*
Tommy called me on the super-seekrit First Draft sat-phone and told me somebody tried to smuggle a komodo dragon into the crack van "to feng shui it," and last he checked on Claire she was drinking Jude's bong water while Doc fed Riot all the Doritos and peanut butter I was saving for my lunch. He also said Adrastos let some hippie camp in the yard. I assume that's where the goat came from.
I HOPE THAT'S WHERE THE GOAT CAME FROM.
In all sincerity, thanks for your patience while I made a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to drink South Florida dry. I could pack all my shit and move to Key West tomorrow. It was like Madison with a beach. I saw a half-naked dude riding a rickshaw around and the back of it said, "where the weird go pro." You are my kind of place, KW.
I see that while I was gone BOTH SIDES DID IT, and John Kerry continued to be awesome, and the president said something dorky, and we'll have lots of words on the first thing because JESUS TITS AND GOD AMERICA, I was listening to MSNBC on the radio and the coverage made me want to get on a raft and paddle to Cuba. I made a list on the plane home, of things to write about, and things I am not allowed to throw to feel better about writing about them.
This vacation in no small part was to celebrate being done with the second job that took me away from you all, as well, so hopefully when I am around here from now on I will be less likely to snap at you when you ask me reasonable questions like, "Is there a way to get Nutella off the ceiling and if not, can you pretend I never said anything?"
I may have officially become an old fart this evening. Frankly, I cannot decide who has been worse for New Orleans in the post-K era, hipsters, planners or NIMBYs. Let's call the whole thing off:
I spent half the week or more working on a piece of biting satire that made the case that I appeared to be the only human being on Earth who understood what Seth MacFarlane was doing at the Oscars. (Working title: The Tit Offensive)
Look, when you hire a guy who makes fun of the handicapped, once wrote an entire network skit dedicated to sideboobs and “Dogs Humping” and then made a feature film about a Teddy Bear that gets stoned, you know what you’re going to get at the Oscars.
And that damned sure ain’t going to be Moliere.
If nothing else, I argued, people needed to pay better attention to the cutaway shots of the actresses appearing to be “offended” during “We Saw Your Boobs.” Charlize Theron was wearing a different dress and so was Naomi Watts. And if Theron was really insulted and blindsided by all this, how the hell did she change dresses so fast and hop up on stage for an impromptu dance with Channing Tatum?
After spending a good amount of time trying to find the clip of David Hyde Pierce flopping his nut sack around while dancing with Jenna Elfman, I finished the post and was ready for what attention whores like me (and most of the Academy) love: attention.
It wasn’t anything in that post that changed my mind on running it, nor was it a change of heart. Instead, it was a moment of self-reflection brought on by my work-muse.
A few months ago, our department was mired in the kind of academic navel-gazing, in-fighting, shit-box stuff that makes people really hate to go to work. As someone far smarter than I noted, the reason the fights in academia are so bitter is because the stakes are so low. After a few threats were levied against me, I noticed that my health and quality of life had taken a turn for the worse. I talked to my doctor who told me that it was likely to get worse unless I got out of there.
I applied for a job several states away. Better colleagues. Better pay. Better hours. The only real downside at that point was that it would be life on the road again when it came to family matters. At least that was the only downside I could see at the time…
The week after I completed my Skype interview with this new school (by the way, worst invention ever for interviews. Had to wear headphones. Looked like Princess Leia the whole damned time…) I went down to the newsroom for our production night. I didn’t quite know how or when would be a good time to tell them I was probably out the door.
I watched them work on stuff, shouting out orders to one another, joking about something or other and so forth. One of the women farted. The room got quiet for a moment. Everyone started laughing.
Someone found a Gummy Frog that someone else had impaled on a pencil. We started kidding the news editor about her fear of frogs. Someone said something that had a double entendre to it. “Quick! Write that one the quote board!” someone else yelled from across the room.
It would have been surreal to most people. To me, it felt like that soft, fuzzy sweater I wear when I’m sick and cold: perfectly comforting.
A week later, I found out I was bounced out of the pool for the job. I half-jokingly told a friend that someone on the committee must have found my Twitter feed.
My wife told me it was probably for the best. The new position didn’t come with a student newspaper. I kind of agreed, but it was still a bit disheartening.
I felt like a guy in a bad dating situation who was blindsided when the girl called it quits before I could. It was like, “If anyone’s ending this relationship, it’s me, not you.” I might not have taken the job if it were offered, but I don’t want someone else telling me I’m not good enough.
I sent a few emails to colleagues I’d grown up with in Ph.D.-land. These were the folks who went from the program to the same kind of school I was at now and then moved on to the “good jobs” of higher prestige and higher positions. They were the associate deans and the leaders at the “name” schools who had once looked at me and said, “Wow, how the hell do publish so much?” They made more money. They were cited as experts.
I was fighting with a mentally imbalanced idiot and trying to convince my university to spend money on an award-winning student newspaper. I was becoming the tragic tale of wasted youth.
The doc friends, of course, saw it differently. I was working hard, I was doing fine, I probably didn’t want their lives. I wasn’t a waste.
Intuitively, it was hard to see it, so I just let it drop. I had way too much shit going on to worry about it. I had committed to a convention on the West Coast for student journalism and I needed to prepare like hell.
The day I was getting ready to leave, we caught about 11 inches of snow. I was driving Sparky down the freeway at 35 mph for almost three hours to make it to Milwaukee in a blizzard. The planes were delayed and I eventually got out of there.
I made my connection in LAX and landed in Oakland, which at least meant I wasn’t going to be late. As I walked up to the baggage carousel, there was a guy who looked like a football free safety standing there in a suit and tie holding a piece of paper with my name on it.
“Are you here for me?” I asked in that incredulous, no-shit? kind of way.
“Yes, sir. Compliments of the convention,” the driver said.
“Holy shit! Can I keep the sign?” I asked.
He laughed and handed it over. I tucked it into my bag carefully and we rode into San Francisco.
Over the last two days, I’ve spoken until my voice fell out, critiqued newspapers on the fly and laughed with former students who have become friends. I helped the convention people stuff convention bags and hugged people I only see once a year. After the first night, I stopped having the incessant nightmares about trying to sell our house or being tossed out of my department. Last night, I went to bed at 9 and slept for 9 hours, the first time that happened in a long time.
For some people, student media is a job. For me, it’s a reward.
Somewhere, sometime, a long, long time ago, it got a hold of me and it never really let go. It’s the counterbalance and the salvation. It took my soul and promised to care for it. It is the small flicker of light in the darkest of rooms.
I remember reading or seeing a quote about Gordie Howe a long time ago. I think it was Dave Diles, a famous Detroit sportscaster, who explained that even after Gordie retired from the NHL as an active player at age 52, he still couldn’t let go. When the Whalers sent him out to scout minor league teams, he’d drive to the events with all of his hockey stuff in the trunk of the car, just in case they invited him onto the ice.
“For most of us,” Diles noted. “We think at some point, ‘Maybe I should do something else or be something else.’ That wasn’t him. Gordie never wanted to be anything other than a hockey player.”
There are probably more important things I could be doing with my time and whatever talent I have managed to marshal. I could be breaking ground in scholarship or crunching numbers with Nate Silver or moving to some place where I could be an expert from a “name” place.
Or, maybe I am a tragic tale of a life misspent. Had I worked more in doing X or climbing ladder Y at an earlier age, I’d be where those in this field felt I should be. Instead, I cast my lot and landed here and this is where I’ll be forever. I mean, really, at what point do you stop being “full of promise” and just start becoming whatever you actually are?
I guess I’ll never really know the answer. What I do know is that I spent yesterday afternoon with a kid who had his ears gauged out to about a half inch, a tattoo around his neck and a stud through is lip, gushing about how fucking incredible his art work was and begging him to do a sketch of me at some point. I talked to a returning student who was probably three years older than I am who was still finding herself and her footing as a journalist, convincing her that she has more than enough time to turn her paper around. I drank and ate my fill for free and could have doubled it, given the number of people here who said, “Dude I owe you a drink for…” whatever it was.
So, I’m sorry Seth. You’re on your own.
Gratitude and soul-saving warmth are rare these days.
And they deserve to be celebrated.
I just finished reading David Halberstam's great 1999 book The Children for the first time. I'm not sure why it took me so long to read it since Halberstam is one of my heroes and I'm deeply interested in the history of the Civil Rights Movement but better late than never.
The timing is also somewhat fortuitous because the SNCC "children" of the title were responsible for the Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Rides and the Selma March, a series of epic events that helped lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That is, in turn,a big story today because the Supremes took up an Alabama case that wants to rip out the heart of that act, Section 5. Discrimination? What discrimination? We have a black President, what more do *those* people want? Sorry, for channeling Justice Scalia but his "crazy wingnut uncle who watches Fox News all day" shtick is contagious, y'all.
Crazy Nino has stopped caring about his public image as a judge who believe in judicial restraint. If he were *actually* a true conservative, he'd defer to Congress instead of going off like Archie Bunker the first time he met George Jefferson, but Crazy Nino is too far gone for that. Here's hoping that at least one of the conservative Justices can read the election results instead of trying to dictate them, and the Court upholds this vital provision.
Back to The Children. It's a must read. For me, reading (and re-reading) Halberstam is like hanging out with an old friend who writes long sentences and is obsessed with semi-colons. That may be contagious since I write some rather epic sentences and tend to be at least semi-high colonic as well. <rim shot> Anyway, nobody writes narrative non-fiction prose quite as well as Halberstam and his biographical snap shots of his "characters" are unsurpassable.
Dr. A and I saw Halberstam speak at the Louisiana Book Festival in Red Stick one year. It took place in the state house chamber and I halfway expected someone to offer me a bribe or to shake me down for one. As I said before, Halberstam was one of my idols so Dr. A suggested that I chat him up. I couldn't do it, I was afraid that I'd babble like an idiot a la Ralph Kramden going "humina humina." I wish that I'd given it the old college try but I did not.
One more thing about The Children. John Lewis is one of the central figures in the book. I didn't think it was possible for me to admire him more than I already did but it happened upon reading this book. I knew that he was a remarkable man but he is also genuinely humble as you may have noticed if you saw him with Rachel Maddow tonight. (When he told Rachel he was honored to be there, he meant it.) If I were him, I'd be a raging egomaniac but John Lewis remains the same modest kid who grew up in racist rural Alabama and became an American hero. Strike that. John Lewis is an American super hero.
Good to be back after my one-week suspension for use of blogger-enhancing drugs...
It’s one of those insanely weird months in which I go from nothing happening to everything happening to nothing happening. The most recent set of drama is our Midnight Run attempt at selling our house in hopes of being able to buy what we have now declared our dream house.
The new place is closer to work, the Midget’s school and pretty much every other thing we do.
If you’ve ever sold a house, you know how this work: rent a storage unit, box up everything you can live without, shitcan everything that you don’t give a shit about and live like a spartan monk. Then, spend the next several months not touching, using or messing up anything, just in case someone wants to come and look at the house.
I have an ADD-addled child and a wife who has severe asthma. Thus, the cleaning, packing, carrying and cussing fell to me. It also didn’t help that we keep getting four-inch snowfalls every six minutes out here. Add that to previous travel and forensics judging commitments and you’ve got the makings of a brain-dead man (which some of you may view as being redundant).
We’re at the point where everything short of the garage is in some semblance of shape. The guy has someone coming over to look at the place tomorrow, so we’re hopeful. Of course, the rabbit keeps kicking her poo all over the floor, the Midget is trying to do art at the kitchen table and I’m facing a laundry mountain that would make Everest look small by comparison.
The funniest thing is that I’m usually the one who doesn’t want to change things up. My wife is always looking for travel or life-enrichment opportunities. I tend to find one thing I like and stick with it. If you’ve ever seen my wardrobe, you know how true that is.
In any case, I’m the twitch now, sweating it out as other people tour the house we desperately want. I can see where I’d put stuff and what I’d do with the small room off the back of the garage. I imaging my kid playing in the yard and having a snowball fight with the neighbor kids.
I have no idea why I’m feeling this way. I was once told by a sports collector I knew that nothing was so rare that something similar couldn’t be found somewhere else in short order. Still, I’ve locked in and I’m hoping that I have the right scented candles out, that the rabbit doesn’t grunt at the visitors and that someone sees our home and thinks, “This is perfect. We need this.”
It’s a strange twist in a strange month.
Back next week with something
I've had sideshows on my mind this week and it's cold today, so I decided to post something wintry from the Fred G. Johnson archives:
Hmm, I wonder if the Polar Bear snacked on the Penguin...
Della Street dislikes Carnival. We're adjacent to the parade route, which makes us rather popular at this time of the year. Della and Oscar hide under the bed unless it's a small gathering. Della does, however, like throws. These big-ass cups came our way courtesy of the Krewe of Tucks, which is a bawdy group that parades the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. The cups are marked "size matters" and Della enjoyed interacting with them. I'm not certain if she was disappointed that they were empty.
It's very clear that the title of this tune by George and Ira Gershwin has changed a few times over the years. This is the title I prefer and if the ghost of Ira decides to haunt me so be it. I'm sure he'd have some good stories about Harpo Marx and Fred Astaire to share.
Where was I? Oh yeah, it's Valentine's Day. I'm not much on all the Hallmark card holidays (unlike my sister-in-law Christina) but I do love my wife very dearly. She takes that whole for better or worse thing very seriously, y'all.
In lieu of a schmaltzy card, here are a few very different versions of this Gershwin classic: