Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I caught this morning morning's meathead...

Spotted: a group of Catholic high school boys dressed as Hasidim. Bad idea jeans.

I just got around to reading an article in the September 10th issue of The American Conservative, "The Once And Future Christendom." It's quite good. Even if the "conservative" label frightens you, read it for the Tolkien references. Besides, it's Halloween, so a good day to be frightened.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh heck, no one reads this anyway...

The October 24 2007 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly reports that, at the dedication of Stanhope Hall as the new home of the Center for African American Studies, President Shirley Tilghman "noted that it is located 'at the heart' of the University both physically and intellectually." I like to think that if I were involved with the Center for African American Studies, I would be appalled by her sycophantic insincerity. Stanhope Hall is not at the physical heart of the University, except by virtue of its proximity to Nassau Hall, in which case it would be more accurate to say it is located "at the liver."

The intellectual point is even more outrageous, however much one values African American Studies. It is in the very nature of Programs, Studies, and Centers, as distinct from Departments, that they are interdisciplinary. For disciplines to interact, they must first exist. If only logic and rhetoric, or theology, or philosophy (beyond the rather esoteric brand that is favored there), were taught at Princeton, they might be at the intellectual heart of the university. As it is, I would argue that History, English, and Politics--the most populous arts departments--are the leading candidates.

While I'm crawling to the spindly end of this limb, I might observe that History and English, housed as they are near the library and connected to the chapel, or Politics, across the street from History and English and nestled near the eating clubs, provide serious candidates for the physical heart as well.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Five-Year-Old Gets the Best Lines

M: Someone went to the principal's office today.
MV: Really!
M: Yes. It was X___! I was in love with him, but now I can't be anymore.
MV: Because he went to the principal's office?
M: Yes. I could never marry him now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Her Writing Needs Work, But She's in AP Self-Esteem

M: Mommy, what does this say?
MV: Shat glocri. I gult. Kr.
M: No, that's a C.
MV: Oh. Shat glocri. I gult. K.C.
M: I created new words!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Notes From All Over

Let's see, let's see...

Warning--parental bragging ahead:

Both NSLR. and S. medaled in their respective categories at the parochial XC championships yesterday. R. and I ran in the 1.5 mile Parents/Coaches run. He was wearing a polo, khaki shorts with a belt, a baseball cap, and his old, beat-down trail runners. He hasn't run since he was in high school. I was wearing new shoes and running shorts. I have been running 10-15 miles a week for a year and a half. He came in 15th at 11:29. He was disappointed with his finish. I came in 33rd, right around 14 minutes. I'm not bitter, no.

But the best part is this: when we were sitting around waiting for the meet to be over and the awards given out, Coach K. came over and said to NSLR, "the St. _____ coach just told me one of her boys fell down and someone from St. _____ helped him up, lost a few places in the process. So I'm figuring that was you."

It was. I think we're almost done with that one.

My main problem with DIY

It doesn't happen instantaneously. I sanded and primed two desks today, and I feel absolutely no sense of accomplishment.

Dumbledore Being Gay

Did she intend it all along? That's all I want to know. I doubt it, though. I think she's drunk on her cultural power. So I think it's a cheap shot.

New Blogs and Places to Drink

Check 'em out.

P.S. I'm working on a way to do a weekly poetry podcast. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

...they wind up wounded, not even dead/

Tonight in juggleland.

What I remembered today:

  • the money and forms for all three pictures
  • that R. and S. needed to wear dress-up clothes

What I forgot:

  • To remind S. to take her clarinet. The temptation is to let her go one week without lessons and learn, well, a lesson from it. But having paid ahead for a year's lessons, and being an absent-minded professor type myself, I brought the clarinet to school.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


What I remembered last night/this morning:

  • R. needed to work on his collage of 31 sins cut out of magazines (generally one painful letter at a time, because our magazines don't seem to have whole words about sin in them. Pictures, perhaps: is frivolity a sin?) and pasted onto what his teachers insist on calling "a posterboard cut in half" because saying 14X22 and putting an end to the frantic discussions among mothers on the corner would be so much less fun.
  • S. needed to bring in small plants, rocks, sticks, etc. for her 2-liter soda bottle terrarium.
  • R. and S. needed to wear their Cross-Country uniforms because today is Fall Sports Picture Day. R. also needed to bring a change of clothes because it is 6th Grade Behavior Warning Free Dress-Down Day, and we can't miss an opportunity to dress down when that privilege is offered, even if that means changing from t-shirt and shorts into t-shirt and shorts.
  • M. needed to be coaxed into an outfit nicer than the stained t-shirts and jeans she typically favors, because today is Kindergarten Picture Day.
What I didn't remember:

  • To send in the money and form for M.'s picture package.

In other news, I picked up the Gossip Girl crack pipe again. Don't look at me like that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I have to get fingerprinted at Sagem Morpho because I volunteer at the children's school. The less said about that, and about the diocese's "plan" to "protect" children, the better.

No, the thing I couldn't have made up is this: on the form you fill out before you register online for your fingerprinting appointment, it says "Gender" and then offers three choices: Male, Female, Both. See, I almost said swear to God, and that would probably be wrong.

Don't even get me started on the fact that it should say "Sex," not gender, because I am a person, not a noun...

Lord Peter was so right.

Also, Sagem Morpho can't deal with anything but Internet Explorer. No Safari, no Firefox.

So many things to complain about, so little time.

Sign of the Apocalypse

I have been watching "Legally Blonde," the musical,* which I DVR'd from MTV on Sunday evening. The opening number is rather catchy, and I am extremely grieved to report that it is entitled "Omigod You Guys." Hordes of sorority sisters swarming around the stage singing "Oh my God," (or, apparently, "omigod") "Oh my God, you guys." Perhaps you would like to view the video and count how many times; I don't have the heart.

I won't claim that I never take the Lord's name in vain, but I always feel bad about it. I will not allow my children to do so. And this song is just...staggering in its onslaught of trivializing blasphemy.

*While folding laundry, I hasten to add; so my time has not been wasted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Official time: 29:11.4

Which Side of the Brain Do You Use to Waste Time on the Internet?

"O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?"
-- W. B. Yeats

How can we know ourselves?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Watering Place Index

29:05--What I think was my 5K time yesterday. They hadn't posted the slowpoke standings by the time I finished my banana and water and headed to the car; and I'm tired of waiting for them to post the official times on the web. I'm pretty sure 29:05 was what I saw on the clock as I ran by, and that would be nice because...

5--is the delightfully precise number of minutes my time improved from last year's 34:05.

9:23--my new mile pace, down from 10:59 of last year's 5K and 11:12 of May's Spring Lake 5.

34--my "safety" time to beat.

32--my realistic goal time.

30--my "dream" goal time. This means, of course, that I get to celebrate the achievement of my dream goal for approximately five minutes and then face the fact that my dream goal was not fantastic enough.

10--the number of K I agreed to run with my friend MB on December 9. Why, I ask myself, why?

1--the number of theaters in my rather broadly defined geographical "area" in which the extravagantly recommended (in the blogosphere) movie "Once" is playing. The one theater is on 12th street in Greenwich Village, which I wish I had known when I was in New York last Friday.

Approximately 15--the total number of minutes it took the plumber to light the pilot light on the furnace and fix our running upstairs toilet.

85--the number of dollars I expect to pay for above services. At least now I know how to light the pilot light in the future.

over 300, 10, and 1--Not-so-little-R.'s blood sugar (which prevented him from running), S.'s seconds over her best time, and the number of times M. vomited at the XC meet yesterday, all of which I obscurely and irrationally feel are my fault for missing the meet to go to my own race.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I know what they mean, but...

I think "Pelosi vows to push ahead with genocide measure" is one of the most delicious headlines I've read in a long time. (It's currently on the NY Times feed for my Google home page. Let's see how long it takes them to reword it.)


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brava, Doris

Doris Lessing is the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Doris Lessing is not one of my favorite authors. I might not even exactly say that I like her work; but I recognize its worth, and its importance. I like my literature a little more heartwarming. That said, Doris was a party to one of the great epiphanies of my life. In the spring of 1990 I was taking a course on British Woman Writers and wanted to write a final paper on The Story of an African Farm. My professor insisted that I compare SoaAF with Martha Quest. I did not want to do this, and I whined for a while. I told the professor that I found Martha Quest not only unsympathetic, but also unbelievable as a character, because she was able to believe in totally contrary things simultaneously, and was so deceived about what was going on in her own life. In fact, the thesis of my paper ultimately ended up being, essentially, "Lyndall can't believe in anything; Martha believes in everything."

Then my boyfriend who never wanted to kiss me or spend time with me broke up with me on Sunday morning of Houseparties weekend, and my soul smacked itself on the forehead. Because, you see, at some level I knew it all the time. While I planned the rest of our lives together I knew that my boyfriend did not love me, at least not in the way that he ought to. La Quest, c'etait moi.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

My Own Invention

Pumpkin Barliotto

I combined a Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe, "Barley Risotto with Corn and Basil" and a Ladies Home Journal recipe, "Pumpkin Parmesan Risotto," to make Pumpkin Barliotto. Voila:

Six cups simmering chicken broth
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 C pearl barley
3/4 C dry white wine
1 C canned pumpkin
1/2 C fresh sage leaves, slivered
1 C grated Parmesan
coarse salt and ground pepper

Saute onion in olive oil until soft, add barley and saute for one minute. Add wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add hot broth, 2 cups initially, cook until absorbed. Continue adding broth to cover and then cook until barley is creamy and slightly chewy, about 45 minutes. Add pumpkin, sage and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Makes about 5-6 main dish servings.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

It's Over. Already.

I've been too busy to get around to recommending "Gossip Girl," but just pretend I did. Then pretend that I withdrew the recommendation. Just. Too. Stupid.

Immoral I can take. One can always claim that the awful behavior of young people on TV will serve as a warning, and that good ultimately triumphs in these shows. But stupid I cannot take, and the flights of fancy around the topic of securing Ivy League admission in last night's show were so embarrassingly far-fetched and wrong that I didn't make it very much past the first commercial break.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Too True

"I am always trying to say something too silly to be believed; but I never manage it."

Busman's Honeymoon, Dorothy Sayers

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Yellow Darkness, Sinister of Rain

It's been gloomy all day; I wish it would just go ahead and rain.

If I may just be vulgar for a moment, learning to write--or, more accurately, learning to write and being left-handed--is kicking my daughter's ass. I ache for her. I've never watched one of my children struggle so much with something so essential before. We all struggle with things like not being forgetful, and managing our time, and self-discipline--but all the time we're pretty much fooling the authorities in the outside world. M.'s teachers haven't said anything about her writing problems yet, and who knows? maybe she's still ahead of the curve. It's just hard for a heretofore spoiled mother's heart to take, especially in a child for whom the first 5 and a half years of life--social interaction, etc.--was pretty breezy.

My other daughter is practicing the clarinet. Practicing the clarinet, for a beginner, involves making a lot of squeaking sounds. One's first, gut reaction is to holler, "Stop making that sound!" So far I have been able to control myself.

And speaking of things kicking one's posterior, I returned from a three-day weekend in Boston last night. In years past, when returning from such a trip, I would conscientiously devote the next day to doing absolutely nothing. I don't seem to be able to do that anymore, logistically or temperamentally. Not that I'm back on top of things. Oh, no no no no no. But I did go for a run, restock the fridge and pantry, drive various people to various things, and make dinner.