Friday, November 30, 2007

Almost like afternoon tea

Le sigh. There is a cold that is so cold that all you can do is scream. I was sprinting home from the train station when I passed the mailman who had a package in his bag...I got all excited thinking it was the General, except that it wasn't. Dang. Now I am in my house, drinking tea and eating Maria cookies, which are almost exactly like biscuits I used to eat in London. Yay!

I've decided to start volunteering at a center for learning, so this morning I got on the train and headed south. When I was looking through a book of maps last week, there was a page of pictures of houses in Chicago around the turn of the century--cramped slum houses compared to the neat urban houses of the suburbs. The houses that flashed by could have been from the first set of pictures. Obviously, they were much better taken care of now, and were interspersed with condos, wee gardens and paved streets, but every now and then you'd get a defiant four story brick building that just looked...old. The L runs a lot higher off the ground as well, so you definitely get more of a sense of sailing along, disconnected from the below. The Center is tucked away next to a park and a hospital. It was started in 1976 after the government shut down the local after-school program and parents picked it up. Now they have three buildings and two hundred full time employees. The building where I'll be working was originally some kind offices that they added onto, deliberately creating kid-friendly classrooms and play areas. I stopped in to meet the three-year olds I'll be playing with. They were shy, but not nearly as shy as I was. In the future I hope to help out with the after-school home work assistance and mentoring programs, but right now since I'm working at night, I can only go in the mornings.

The volunteer coordinator had set up a special event for today: cutting out felt stockings that the kids would decorate and hang up around the school. She was hoping for a dozen or so people, but in the end it was just me. I didn't mind. It was great to talk to her--in a way we were a lot a like. Like me, she did her undergrad close to home (Chicago) and then went away to do her master's (New York). also like me, she worked in a big company before deciding that she really wanted to do something worthwhile with her life. It was refreshing to talk to her about our interests and different topics like immigration or families. I still feel very knocked about, though I don't know why exactly, and so to have someone say my resume is very good and understand how I need to be doing something that's not soulless is like--well, I want to say like balm on a wound, but that seems kind of dramatic. and's nice to be needed and appreciated.

I still need to find a new job, but I think I'm going to start looking in the non-profit sector. If cutting out felt stockings for a couple hours can make me feel worthwhile, imagine what doing this all the time might do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Tonight was the first night I was able to watch any kind of political debate, and, ironically, it was the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. I noticed two things: First off, Anderson Cooper can't moderate to save his life and secondly, Rudy Giuliani's got a lisp.

Okay, anyway. the topic that sent me flying to my computer was a question about gays in the military. The YouTube video was sent in by a man who laid out his credentials: a brigadier general with forty-two years in the army and oh yeah, he's gay. So do the candidates support openly gay people in the military. but wait! before we get to the answers--the general is ACTUALLY THERE in the auditorium, so each of the candidates gets to thank him uncomfortably for his service before going on to say that they were afraid that openly gay people in the military was bad for "unit cohesian."

Oh GOD if ever we needed the Daily Show, it would have to be when Mike Huckabee was talking about small, tight units that were threatened by the gays, but never mind. Curse you stubborn studio heads!!! Denying us the gleeful Daily Show goodness!

Where was I? Oh, right--so each of the candidates (well, I believe it was only Huckabee, McCain and Romney who talked) each said "thank you for serving your country" and then went on to spin some crap about how it was bad for morale.

Okay, but here's the thing. In the Army, THEY TELL YOU WHAT TO DO. So if you're uncomfortable with Private Pink over there, your lieutenant could either a) tell you to beat up on him or b) tell you to man up and deal with it. So whoever is in charge of the Army (and technically that's Bush II, right? oh, god...) could decide TOMORROW, "you know what? Let's just not make a big deal out of it." and everyone would have to listen because it's the ARMY.

So then someone else said...ah, hells, they all look alike, if only one of them were black or something... "and the other thing is, a lot of these kids come from conservative backgrounds, so to ask them to serve with people who go against their beliefs is putting them in a situation where they're not comfortable." I'm paraphrasing, and I wasn't taking notes, but at this point I got down on my knees and started praying. You know where ELSE these sheltered conservative kids are going to run into people with differing viewpoints? How about FALLUJAH? Or KABUL? And--seriously--if they can't handle a fellow soldier with different opinions on female attractiveness, how can we ask them to deal with a completely foreign culture?


Then Anderson Cooper asked the Brigadier-General if he felt his question had not been answered. To which he replied "With all due respect, I do not." and I was shouting "No! Don't give these jerks ANY respect! They don't know what they're talking about!"

The thing that sent me sprinting to my computer though was a comment that one of them made earlier in the night, which rounds up all my angry threads neatly. They were talking about Iraq and the military and one of them...uhm, I think it was Huckabee again or the other one who's not McCain or Romney...he said something about military tradition and then started listing off great battles, starting with Concord. (For the record, I find it funny that no one ever mentions Civil War battles--after all, technically no American ever lost one of those!) First off--LEXINGTON and Concord: not such a good battle to mention, since it was kind of a draw. STICK TO YORKTOWN. Dork. Secondly, (and this comes back to the gay thing) you know who fought at Concord? Black soldiers. Yeah, they where there up until the Continental Congress said "You know what? Let's not have black soldiers" and then GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON, who is so awesome I just misspelled his name twice, wrote to them and said "No."



I don't mean to shout.

But you see my point. This (by "this" I mean excluding certain groups from the military) has happened before--and it got FIXED because the COMMANDER IN CHIEF had the TESTICULAR FORTITUDE to say "No."

And I'm sick of people justifying a lame policy because it would be bad for unit morale and because there's a war on. No, you know what's bad for unit morale? Causing more divisiveness in this country because you're not willing to be a leader who can say "You secure? I'm secure. Bring it on." That's how this military was integrated (racially and genderly and that's not a word but it's late) and that's the reason I'm not voting Republican this year.

Not that I'm a one-issue pony.

But it kind of sums it all up, don't you think?

I will try and put up some vid of this debate, but it's so fresh it's not even posted yet. You can probably find it on YouTube by the time I hit "publish" though--watch it, it's beyond belief.

Overlooking John Hancock

We had the first read-through for "1776" last night...everything went very well. The director told me once again how happy he was with everything, and I finally got a chance to see all my handouts printed out. I didn't realise this, but I've produced almost a hundred pages of written work for this show--each character gets a biography (except for John Hancock, who didn't get cut and pasted, mrrr)and a photocopy of some info about their home state. I also got a chance to meet some of the cast. Including, ironically, an old Pointer Alumni, Jon Blyck, who is playing Josiah Bartlett. We kind of eyed each other across the room, and then it was like "hey! I know that person!" So that was nice. The actor playing Rutledge was Harry Houdini from the "Ragtime" I saw this summer, so I spent a good twenty minutes trying to place him: "where do I know that creepy guy from and why do I keep picturing him in chains? OH!" So after he read-through I casually mentioned to him that I enjoyed his performance. He was very polite, and I managed not to embarass myself by telling him he was FAR more handsome than the historic Rutledge was. I think that's my biggest problem: I have WAY too much information for most of these actors. I could probably sit down right now with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and give them a forty-minute lecture on why they are friends and their different viewpoints on government--with slides--but obviously that's not going to help actors. So now I'm going to concentrate on learning more about specific state history...not that anyone needs it, but just in case they ask. I'm very excited about this show (obviously) and I'm glad to see that everyone else is too. It feels good to be back in rehearsal.

So I have two jobs. One is Lane Bryant and mostly for the clothes, the other is also retail, but it involves Very Rich People, so I don't talk about it much on my blog. Suffice to say that I follow directions, am tidy, timely and basically competent. The manager has taken a shine to me--which is great! Except that I'm working through a temp agency, who has me signed up for part-time hours. I was getting more hours before, but now they've hired a new person who WILL be getting all the extra hours and I will be getting...errr...very few. Add to this my manager (who, as I said, has taken a shine to me, but is unable to influence whether or not I get hired) has decided that I am just the answer to a prayer and that together "we" will whip this shop into shape and get it all organised. Fine. I like responsibility, I like a job well done. But. She has also started complaining openly about one of my coworkers--nevermind the fact that I agree with her, it makes me hugely uncomfortable that she's taking me into her confidence, giving me responsibility and yet she's unable to get the place to hire me full time or at take over my temp contract so I could get some benefits. Yesterday she literally had me backed into a corner complaining about my coworker, the management and voicing her fears that they're going to fire her. She was supposed to leave at three, but she ended up staying until quarter to four because every five minutes she had to turn around and say "And another thing..." Now, I love my boss: she's hardworking, level-headed, not afraid to take charge and she's traveled all over the world (sound familiar?), but I just don't think I can take the "stress" of being her number two without the "benefits" of more "hours."

So I guess I'm going to have to look for another job. As much as I like working part-time so I can have time to write, I'm not able to put any money in the bank and the demands of this job are starting to outweigh the perks. Of which there are many. But when you've had me here for two months, can see what I do, have raved about what I can do and then turn around and hire someone else full-time? Yeah. Sounds like it's time for good-bye and good luck and get out.

Meanwhile, in youtubeland: The Spanish answer to Shrek comes via an animated version of "Don Quixote" called "Donkey Xote." (say it like "donnn-KEYzote." Geddit?) I really want this to be good, because it looks like a funny concept, but...alas, the trailer just has me wishing that Pixar had got there first.


Knew it would come to me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Open Letter to Neal Stephenson

Dear Mr. Stephenson,

I just got the results back from my "GRE" test--that's the one they make you take when you apply to grad school so they can see if you're smart enough--and I am happy to report I got a 5.5 out of 6 on the essay. I was aiming for a five, so I did better than I expected. Almost perfect, actually. Anyway, I just wanted to write to you and say thank you, because the essay question I had was something along the lines of "It is always a good idea to have an outcome in mind before conducting scientific experiments" --and then I had to agree or disagree. Well, I disagreed. Big time. Because, you see, I had just started on Book 3 of the Baroque Cycle--"A System of the World" and, as you probably know, since you wrote them, the Baroque Cycle is all about Science and Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, so I was learning about Science and Scientific Theory through the magic of fiction. And, since I am a left-brained sort of person, the information stuck with me a lot better than it did when I was sixteen and sleeping through Mr. Lyga's biology class. So when the question came up on my GRE, I laughed (silently, so as not to interrupt any of my fellow testers), then proceeded to argue against the statement, liberally peppering my essay with references to Newton, Hooke, Halley and that one guy who started the Royal Observatory whose name escapes me. I wrote it just like the Princeton Review told me to, with a hint of "colour" thrown in courtesy of your books. Now, I would say I'm not your biggest fan--while I enjoyed the Baroque Cycle, I feel like I should get a medal for slogging through three thousand pages, also, Book Two "The Confusion" was just that: confusing, and not very funny, actually--but I am definitely one most in your debt. So thank you very much for doing your research and providing such excellent, wonderful, memorable details. I look forward to re-reading "Snow Crash" and wish you much luck on your future endeavours.

yours, Nicki

Monday, November 26, 2007

veep on ice

I just read that Emma Clarke, the woman who does the famous "Mind the Gap!" warnings on the Tube has been sacked for posting, uh, "alternate" Tube announcements. My favourite one is "To our American, friends, you are most certainly talking too loudly." YES. Yes, you are. I can understand why London Underground had to let her go (I mean, she was riffing on the customers there), but on the other hand--it's nothing we haven't thought before.

In other news, CNN is telling me that veep Dick Cheney (aka Lord Doom) is undergoing heart surgery to install an electric shocker that will regulate his irregular heartbeat.

Now, I don't wish anyone dead. No. No, I do not, not even Dick Cheney, but I am a bad person, because my mind did briefly stray into a cinematic tableau, where VP Dick Cheney was out cold to the world, his chest open like a Christmas turkey, small black heart sluggishly pumping bile. And standing over him, swathed in white like an avenging Angel, a heart surgeon, his hands stained red, arms outstretched as he struggles with his inner conscience: should fullfill his oath as a Doctor or should he rid the world of evil, EVIL! Nurses standing around, breathless, their shining eyes on him as they await his decision, the only noise the faint hiss of the respirator and beep of the heart monitor. Beep...beep...beep...still they wait...beep...beep...beep...a single line of sweat is as if eternity has slowed, all posterity is holding its breath...beep...beep...the lights one moves...dimmer now, greying at the edges...beep...beep...fade to black.

CNN tells me, however, that this will be an outpatient procedure, which means my disgusting little daydream will never happen. sigh. I am a bad person. Blame the imagination. And the fact that I've been watching LOTR for two days straight. Too much epic drama and you start seeing it everywhere.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I know I posted like, three minutes ago, but after I went to LB to do a little shopping ($238+BOGO+Associate Discount=$85. woot.) I wandered into Macy's. And I just had to post about the FAO Schwartz display--they have a menagerie of life-size stuffed animals, zebras, ponies, baby elephants, etc up on the fourth floor. I was wandered around with a goofy little smile on my face, dodging children, "Did you ever see the faces of the children/they get so excited" from Tommy running through my head, feeling genuinely Christmassy. And then I saw the unicorn. Not exactly life-size (I always pictured them huge), but still huge, horn down, ready to charge into someone's living room. and I just felt really happy that some little kid was going to wake up on Christmas morning and there would be a unicorn in their living room. I couldn't even get cynical about how it was $800 and some spoiled brat who doesn't deserve it will probably be hanging her Gucci clothes off it in five years time, no, I was just really happy thinking about the happy child thirty days from now.

I wandered down to the ground floor where Macy's has a mini-Lush store. Lush is an organic soap store, with fizzy bath salts and henna hair dye, and they also have a store in Covent Garden--which is where I got my Christmas fix last year. So if I closed my eyes and inhaled, I captured the happyness of being in London around Christmas. The lucky sales girl had an easy sell after that.

Then I went home and prepared to cut up eggplant for dinner. Pumpkin spice candle burning merrily in the window, classical music on the radio, and then I sliced right through my thumb. Yeah. It happened that fast. One second I'm thinking about the last time I had eggplant Greek style, the next minute I was dripping blood all over the sink. It's not deep, but it is painful. My left thumb, on the side, nicked the nail. Luckily it's the one finger I don't use when I'm typing so I can update every one on my day. A good day--but I really wish I hadn't ended on such a sore note.

If only I had a real unicorn to heal me with it's magical powers...


I am squirming with happiness. My director managed to open everything I sent him and he emailed me saying it was "just what he wanted." Happiness. So now I'm off to go shopping in celebration. Squee.

In the meantime, I thought I'd put up a drawing I did the other day. At one time my notebook margins were filled with odd doodlings and sketches, some of which were quite involved. Alas, I'm no longer being bored to death by teachers, so my drawing skills have fallen off sharply, but sometimes I pick up a pencil again.

This is Jonathan Strange reading "The Friends of English Magic." It occurred to me that they didn't really have bathtubs as we think of them back then, so I tried stuffing him in a sitzbath. I like the result, even if he doesn't really have any room for his manly masculine calves. Must be all that striding around the King's Roads and whatnot. My apologies to any loyal readers who come here looking for a PG rating--and also Susannah Clarke. I know I could never do JS real justice.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Summer Patriots

I just emailed the biggest batch yet of Revolutionary research bucket o' joy, and I'm done for the night--the last one bounced back because my director's email is full. Oops. Sorry. I spent most of Thanksgiving inside working on research, and eating pizza. Spoke with a faraway friend for almost two hours, and then ate more pizza. The heat in our apartment has gone from "nonexistent" to "oven" so I am a very happy puppy, nice and warm. Today was much the same--both roommates are gone, I have a chunk of research accomplished, and now I think I'll crack open that jar of salsa and watch me some LOTR.

I worked yesterday at LB. It wasn't too terribly crazy, although I did pick out a couple shirts that I'm going to back for tomorrow. My manager got a call late yesterday That the regional manager was going to be making a surprise visit on Saturday—so suddenly we needed to restock, clean and get the back of the store tidy. Naturally we ended up finding this out at four pm, when everyone else had left. They asked me if I wanted to stay late, and I said sure…so I was there until eleven when I finally had to leave or else. On my way to work that morning, a bottle of juice I bought was leaking into my shoe, a fact unbeknownst to me until I had landed at Michigan Ave. Now, my shoes are plastic (thank you Payless), except for a bit of felt on the inside, so I toweled them off and put them on, figuring I could handle clammy shoes for six hours. But then I discovered we were having a heating problem, so the store was cold enough to chill beer—AND I ended up working for fifteen hours. Needless to say, my feet are not happy with me today, which is why I haven’t hobbled any further than the corner store for milk. I was looking forward to the fat paycheck until I started adding up the clothes I found and the GW figure which will be mine in approximately four hours and realized that I had made, oh, maybe $20. Oh well. I needed some new clothes anyway. Easy come, easy go.

Then today, more research. It’s so hard to know what to write when you’re preparing information for actors. Do they want you to extrapolate from the text of the play? Do they want to read primary historical sources? How do you explain to normal, modern people what living in the 18th century was like? Think of all the objects and norms you take for granted, and all the events in your life that have made you who you are. Have you ever said “What was life like before the internets?” How about—what was life like before the telephone? How do you condense that down so it’s meaningful for someone who has maybe two lines in a play? Then multiply that by twenty-two. It’s been fun, but I’m looking forward to going to the reading on Tuesday and finding out if anything I’ve sent over has been helpful—and if not, what would be. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but that’s not helpful if I’m not communicating it effectively.

More than anything, I’ve learned that the founding of our country was an unbelieveable occureance—even cooler than the lame mythology that’s grown up around (deep rumbly voice here) “The Signing of the Declaration!” “The Winter at Valley Forge!” “The Battle of Yorktown!” Our founding fathers were just guys, you know? and not all of them were quite sure they liked the idea of this independence thing, thank you very much. But they all decided to say screw you to the mother country and try this experiment—and btw (Bush, I’m looking at you here) when it FAILED, they TRIED SOMETHING ELSE. That’s so cool. They were just men, doing their thing (well, except GW, who is, in fact, probably descended from Trojan warriors or something) and voila! America.

The other day at my other job, CNN was on, and they were being jerks by asking hapless passerbys questions from the Citizen’s Test (oops, misspelled Citizin) administered to new immigrants. One of the questions was “Who was President during WWI?” Got it? One of the other workers said “Oh—Roosevelt and Truman” and I immediately became smug because they were asking about world war ONE, where the president was Wilson. But then I felt guilty because I know that I couldn’t answer every question on that test—and that I don’t know if I could have said “AND Truman” in a pinch. I wanted to say something like “yay, Americans together!” but in today’s climate I don’t even know if that would be okay, so I kept my mouth shut. (yeah, for once)

Although I now know that Sam Hutchinson was the first president of the United States in the technically most technical sense of the term. Just in case it ever comes up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

mah comes

I know you're not supposed to get excited about your birthday unless you're like, *twelve*, but I'm really looking forward to mine. I'm doing one of those justifying things, like "New birthday? New panties!" or "oh, I can totally bid on the George Washington figure on eBay beacuse IT'S MAH BIRTHDAY!" Oh, and while I'm on eBay...might as well see if "horatio nelson" hits anything.


Now. I know you all love me, but I also know that paying 700+ dollars for a piece of paper that Horatio Nelson once scribbled his name on is ridiculous, so I'm not going to suggest for a second that mah birthday is coming up and we all know how much I like Admiral Nelson.

Nope. Not gonna do it. Because I love you all more than I love Nelson.

Am, instead, going to sit back and enjoy my small plastic Nelson figurine, my Nelson bookmark, my Nelson cards, my Nelson winestopper and my Nelson books (none of which were actually touched by Nelson, but some of which came from Greenwich which is very close to where Nelson was and one card was even, I believe, bought from a shop on Nelson Road) and think about maybe making that paper-mache Nelson I was thinking about maybe making.

Nelson's autograph would be cool. But being surrounded by people I love is even cooler.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I am Famous!!!

One of the great timewasters,, published one of my submissions the other day. Alsome!

12PM They Don't Look Too Good, Either
60-ish suit in Cubs jacket on cell: I'm on the bus right now. I'm going to the Cubs game. Well, I just left Dad, and I gotta say, it doesn't look too good. They're feeding him through a stomach tube and they've got him on a drip. You know, he had that quadruple bypass a couple of years ago and he's got diabetes now... He's been unconscious most of the time when I visit him, and... Yeah, well, don't wish me good luck. The Cubbies are the ones who need it!

Clarke Street bus
Chicago, Illinois

Overheard by: priorities schmiorities

In other news, it occured to me today that having an iPod cord dangling from your coat pocket serves roughly the same purpose as a watch chain. Ostensibly to let you listen to your music, but really just to let everyone know what you're rich enough to afford an iPod. I just wish there was some kind of way I could hang some seals on Napoleon, that would be the sweetness.


Just what I need: a twelve inch tall poseable figure of George Washington complete with removeable telescope, cape, sword and tricorn. *small drool*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Plans

Now that I'm working in retail, my whole schedule revolves around when the shoppers are hopping. Which means this week--Thanksgiving week, the busiest shopping day of the year--will be the busiest week I've had in a while. I like being in a city for Christmas: Macy's has their window displays out, each window a marionette diorama of a scene from the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker; a puppeteer was doing a Punch and Judy impression on the street corner; the Salvation Army bellringers are out already, wishing people a Happy Turkey Day instead of a Happy Christmas. I'm annoyed by how Christmas has somehow managed to seep out of its Thanksgiving Day boundaries, but the cheer and happiness is not so forced or worn out that I can't enjoy it. I'm working on Black Friday (but, also, participating in Buy Nothing Day, which should provide an interesting counterpoint) and the Saturday after. Putting money in the bank for a snowy day.

I'm not going home for Thanksgiving, and I'm not cooking. The roommates will be gone, so I will have the house to myself for a change. The last two years I cooked dinner for twelve people in Britain, and the year before that was Boston, so I guess I earned a year off this year. This week Thanksgiving will simply be "Thursday: the Day Off" and I'm trying to come up with something I can do that doesn't involve stores. Possibly sewing on a dress, or maybe making a pumpkin pie. Working on my 1776 research, which has been woefully neglected. Or maybe just watching Lord of the Rings from dawn until dusk.

I guess this post is a little depressive. I didn't mean for it to be. I'm just excited for my birthday, what with people coming from all over the universe to help me celebrate, that I completely forgot about setting up this other holiday. Oh well. There's always next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

food glorious food...

I went to Paulina's this morning, a small restaurant which has the best pancakes within walking distance. The owner of the place is a grizzled New York man who orders around people waiting like they're soldiers. I ordered banana pancakes and eggs. Ten minutes after they arrived it looked like Austerlitz after Napoleon had gotten there and when the busboy tried to take away an egg I wasn't finished with, I stabbed him in the hand with a fork.

So. Happily full now, but sleepy. I really should work on some 1776 stuff, but...I started re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I'm enjoying it so much. I haven't read the first books in years. Literally, I can't remember the last time I read book one. But I'm about halfway through it, and I'm having a great time. It's so much fun to see all the little cues that Jo has scattered through the books, and to "meet" the characters again for the first time. Love it.

Oooh, I was going to put a picture up here of some fan art...but I got distracted. teehee.

Maybe I will go finish book one and take a nap.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


After breakfasting on Midol, I went to meet a composer about potentially working together on a script. The meeting went well and I have high hopes we'll work together.

Afterwards, I was going to see a movie, but instead I went to Wal-Greens and bought:

1. Feminine products
2. A microwaveable heating pad
3. Two (2) bars of Lindt dark chocolate

The woman behind the counter did NOT ask how I was doing.

Comfortably wrapped around my new heating pad now, waiting for the nausea to subside so I can have chocolate for dinner.


Waste of a perfectly good Saturday, if you ask me.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rule Britannia

While reading the Guardian Unlimited today, I happened across this article which features this picture:

That, friends, is what is commonly called a "yob" weeing into a delicate china teacup. Apparently a Belgium advertising firm feels that this is the best way to get Belgians onto the train to London. I thought this article was interesting because most of the people who commented on it "got" the photo. Yeah, it's slightly offensive, but you have to admit, that's what most people think of when they think of England. Not me, of course, I think of Nelson, but somehow I don't feel that would be appropriate. (Please, no one-handed jokes that is just...oh. Ooops.)

One of the commenters on the article--"LairdKeir"--was not happy though, asking, "Do the British have no self-respect anymore?" and offering a link to his blog, Imperial Flags. Well, I like flags, so I clicked on the link, which is nothing more than a bunch of pictures of this man's collection of flags from the British Empire's heyday. Okay, fine, everyone needs a hobby. What got my eyebrow raised was this picture at the bottom, apparently a feel-good poster from WWII:

"That's right, everyone together, except you darkies, you go in the back. What? You're getting dust in your face? Well, just close your eyes and think of England man!!"

Oh British Empire. How far you've come.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Contemplating the Dollar

I picked up my first paycheck from LB today--a whole $32. Whoo. While I was waiting to retrive said paycheck, I was lovingly fingering a red and black jet bead necklace and earring set and thinking maybe it would be the perfect accessory to a certain upcoming birthday party--until I flipped it over and realised it cost $30. Four hours of work = one necklace. Maybe not.

Last night after work I was craving a Coke. I mean--just gagging for one. I think this has something to do with the fact that I'm trying to rid my diet of high fructose corn syrup, and my body was cranky because the only sugar it had had that day was Splenda. I decided to be bad and get a Coke, but I only had One Dollar. Coke in the convenience store costs at least 1.25 (which, with Chicago tax, comes out to roughly $4.06), but then I remembered that McDonald's had been having a deal on soda, so I trundled across the street. Alas, the deal, advertised over the summer as "42 cents for a cup of Coke the size of LAKE MICHIGAN!!!" was over. The small Coke was now $1, which, with Chicago tax comes out to roughly $4.06. Dar. No soda for me. I decided to suck it up and wait until I got home, where I could just be a grown-up and steal one of my roommate's Cokes.

I got a front-facing seat on the train, near the end. Almost immediately after I got on, a thin homeless man came through the door and started asking for money, explaining to everyone that he only needed five dollars to get into a shelter, and waving around a dollar. Now, most of the time I don't give money to people who ask (homeless persons and Greenpeace alike) because I a) believe they will buy alcohol with it, b) don't agree with their politics or c) I don't have any money on me. But this man struck me as particularly persistent: he walked up and down the train, stopping to harass people and wave his dollar in their faces. And everyone--to a man--ignored him. Even when his dollar came between their face and their newspaper. Not a glance.

I gave the man my dollar. I didn't really need it, and now I have thirty-two more dollars, so I figure even if that's only a rough profit of $31, I'm still coming out ahead. It's strange how other countries have their versions of the particular beggar you see over and over again: in Greece you have black clad weeping widows who kneel for hours outside in the sun, holding out a hand, occasionally with a child in tow. In Paris you have Algerian immigrants who will ask to show you a trick, then tie a bracelet on your wrist and refuse to let you go until you give them some change. In London, you have the thin, spaced-out train junkies who have given their speech so many times they sound like zombies. And in Chicago you have genuinely crazy people who--through a combination of no universal health care and madness brought on by the cold--can be downright scary sometimes.

Today there was another man on the train asking for money, a tall blind man holding a McDonald's cup (the kind that would have been 42 cents earlier in the summer) in one hand and a white cane in the other hand. He managed to walk down the aisle of the swaying train without falling and without holding onto anything. Once again, he was largely ignored, although the woman next to me quickly rolled up a dollar and tossed it into his cup so he didn't realise she had done it. I wanted to turn to her and say "I gave a dollar last night! Why did you give that guy some money?" but I didn't want to embarass her. Or myself. The Bible says we shouldn't make a big deal out of charity, and being the only person on the train who gives money can make you feel like a spotlight is shining on you. It shouldn't though--after all, the most it earns you is a thank you before the person moves on. After all, it's only a dollar. And, really, what can a dollar buy you these days?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

AND Helium

Attention British Airways: If you are going to have a sale, do NOT put "$207!!!!" in giant letters, with a tiny footnote that says "*and up!" and do not add the bloody taxes on at the end so that by the time I worm my way through your insidious and useless website instead of getting a "fabulous deal!!!" on airfare it turns out you're actually charging the SAME BLOODY PRICE to London as everyone else!

I am so bored with Chicago. I just want to leave.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Salon has an interesting article about a lawsuit being filed by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. It appears that the creator of the fansite Harry Potter Lexicon has decided to publish his exhaustivly encyclopedic website in a handy reference guide form, for those times when you're actually offline and need to find out what Snape's sister's name was.* I don't hang out on the Harry Potter Lexicon, I'm a fan but not obsessed.** Now JK's publisher has moved to block the printing of this encyclopedia, saying that the fansite was okay, but any commercial venture that makes money off of Rowling's characters or plots is not. Rowling has said that she wants to publish an encyclopedia of her own, so it's a fair assumption she doesn't want any competition.

Here's the thing: Rowling is on record as saying she has used the Harry Potter Lexicon as a reference, checking in when she needs to confirm a fact--about her own universe. I think we can safely assume then, that the HPL is exhaustively, obsessively accurate, in the way that only creations of obsessed exhaustive fans can be. I look forward to a HP encyclopedia, and I don't much care if it's written by Rowling or by a fan--I'd almost rather go with the fan, since they have been writing, editing and cross-referencing things as the books were coming out and is likely to be more accurate. I can almost guarantee it will--remember the Maurauder's Map mysteriously reappearing in Book 5? And Rowling frantically backpedaling in interviews, saying that Dumbledore had given it to Harry? When was this, exactly?***

You see my point. The article makes a better case about previous litigation, and what constitutes fan/research useage of materials, and what infringes on copywrite, blah, blah, blah. My concern is less with copywrite infringement than it is with accuracy. Tolkein took decades to put the world of Lord of the Rings in order, but with the Internet, the HP universe was constructed as the books were being printed. Why wouldn't HP fans want to take advantage of that? More importantly--why should we wait for Jo's official version? That hasn't stopped us from creating articles, fan fiction, fan art and even scholarly research.

Most importantly, Jo--let it go. We are your fans and we love your characters as much as you do. You have a bazillion dollars in the bank, you can afford to let a few geeks print up some HP research books. I know it's the principle of the thing, but it's not. Do not sue your fans. We have powers beyond your imagining. I can live without a shiny new set of collector's edition Harry Potter books in the collector's box, but can you live without my love?

Fine. You probably be can,**** but you see my point. Let it go.

* Trick question. He doesn't have one.
** Tattoo notwithstanding. Sweet hell, that's comprehensive
*** Alfonso Cuaron, you're on notice. "How do you know it's a map, sir?"
**** With your bazillion dollars.*****
*****(stupid exchange rate)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Justice For All

The place where I work has a couple of flat-screen TVs tuned to CNN, apparently for the purpose of raising my blood pressure, because I usually take my break when Bill O'Reilly is on. And lately, every night, when I stop on my way out the door to put my street shoes on, some over-coiffed news anchor on CNN has been absolutely haranguing Sgt. Drew Peterson about the disappearance of his wife.

Peterson's wife went missing two weeks ago: Peterson, who is twenty years older than Stacey, has apparently not been helping out with the search, claiming his wife called him the night before and said she was leaving him. Stacey Peterson's family say she would never leave her children, and have organised a search, which is focussing on the wooded area around their home. Stacey is Peterson's fourth wife: his first one drowned in their bathtub under mysterious circumstances.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Fine. So is CNN--and every newspaper in Chicago. Now, I may have my suspicions, which I may whisper to my neighbors over the back fence, but the last time I checked the rule was "innocent until proven guilty." And I am absolutely sick to the stomach watching the "legal analysts" on CNN gleefully (literally--full of glee) pick apart the disturbing points in this case, as if he had signed a confession. Today a pundit put so much emphasis on the word "accidental" in the sentence "His first wife's death was ruled accidental" that I could almost "see" the "quotation marks" hovering around her "head." I'm ferociously mad that they (and by "they" I am naming the Sun-Times, the Tribune, CNN, and Fox News)seem to think they have the right to be judge, jury and executioner. The last straw came yesterday when the Chicago Sun-Times ran a front page headline which said: "It's Official! Peterson is a Suspect in Potential Homicide Investigation" like the entire world knew that this was a foregone conclusion. "You think you're such a clever bugger, but we've got your number," says the paper, all the while marveling at the stupidity of the police.

Attention media outlets: YOU ARE NOT THE LAW. The police have a VERY GOOD REASON for declaring/not declaring someone a suspect based on evidence that I'm fairly certain you have not seen. SO BACK OFF.

Obviously Sgt. Peterson has been laid off from his job while the investigation is pending, and last I heard they were going to exhume his wife's body to perform another autopsy. I'm not defending the man, only saying that the media circus surrounding this guy has gotten completely out of hand, and I am not going to listen to the sanctimonious chip-wrappers if they keep it up. Let the police do their work, let the family alone so they can deal in private and stop acting like you have all the answers. You don't.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I just want nice things

I put off the last step of our bathroom makeover because I knew it was going to be bad. And it was. The last step was waterproofing everything, which involves a Tub N' Tile waterproof enamel that is so vicious it has to be mixed together before you can use it, and even the directions say you're not supposed to be painting for more than five minutes before taking a break. It took me a couple hours, but I still have a headache and I was, I think, briefly high during the afternoon.

So I decided to get out of the house and see if I could find a kitchen table. I found almost exactly what I was looking for at Linens and Things, but it was $249. I didn't really expect to find what I was looking for at the price I wanted to pay, but I thought I'd browse. I'm so frustrated with my roommates--both of them--since neither of them apparently care about what our apartment looks like. Wandering through the decorating section of Linens and Things didn't help either, with cheezy wall-plaques that said things like "Home Is Where the Heart Is!" I almost bought a bread plate though because it said "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" like the plate Laura Ingalls Wilder got for her wedding, but it was some cheap metal, not peweter. Someday I'm going to have a nice plate like that, when I have a place where "Home Is Where the Heart Is!" does not look out of the place. I'm trying to decorate our apartment, but our--strike that, MY--budget is so limited there's only so much I can do. The local thrift store has furnished an an abundance of gorgeous museum-grade prints for a dollar or two, but they hang forlornly in an empty dining room. Whenever I ask the guys about potentially helping out, they get a hazy look on their face and become conveniently absent. A feminist article from Bitch noted how whenever men do chores like sweeping or dishes they will come and inform their mates, like they deserve praise. I have discovered this is true, but I don't want to live in an feminist experiment, I just want nice things.

The only option, of course, is to get a job with more hours so I have some extra money. I know this--but oh, that would take so much time away from my redecorating. I ended up getting a candle for the kitchen that smells like spiced pumpkin cookies--and if the roommates come home and ask if I'm baking, I'll just innocently ask "and where would I roll out the dough?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Albanians Among Us

Some of my loyal readers have heard me talk about my landlord and his family. My landlord, bless him, is approximately 7,000 years old, so in addition to not being able to speak English very well, he also can't hear. And he has a weird tendency to come upstairs any time he wants to check out how our apartment is doing and occasionally use our bathroom. This has increased recently (the visits, not the bathroom breaks) because of the repainting/remodeling we've been doing. I don't complain, because for once I am living in a place that has colour on the walls, but it is unnerving when it's ten o'clock on a Saturday night, I'm hunkered in a feral position over a pint of Ben and Jerry's and I suddenly hear a wheezing cry, "Richie nothere?!" Richie, of course, being my roommate Rich who has lived here for six years and has been adopted as another son. The second floor of this apartment belongs to the daughter and son-in-law and their two gorgeous girls, who have a tendency to listen to modern Albanian pop music at the top of the dial (11) on Saturday mornings. So loudly, in fact, that if I could speak Albanian, I would understand every word. SO LOUDLY in fact, that this morning I finally kicked off my London slippers and went downstairs to bang on their door and beg them to turn it down (6). No one answered ("I know you're in there! I can hear the football!") but the music mercifully fell silent.

(Must just briefly mention a new ad I saw for Yahoo Personals that shows a red rose, then a bunch of white roses with the caption: "When You're Ready to Find The One." You would think, if Yahoo was so keen on helping me find The One they wouldn't charge $25 a month to stand in the way of Tru Love. Vomit. Some of us don't want white roses. Some of us want sunflowers.)

I'm finally almost finished with "The System of the World," which is the last book in the Baroque cycle that I started, oh, about three years ago now. I almost didn't read the last book, since the second one was so draggy, but then the third one took place entirely in London, so I thought, what the hell. It's a good book. But the story is so confusing that I have NO IDEA who is on who's side, what their motivations are, nay, even who half the characters are. I daresay only sheer bullheadedness will get me through the last fifty pages. I'm just glad that Neal Stephenson has picked up the pace and made it funny, though not enough to prevent me from falling asleep on it every night. (I don't want to drop a book that heavy on the floor--it might go right through, and even if it doesn't, I care about my neighbors too much to wake them up. So I have another pillow.) Although "Snow Crash" might have defined the term "crack book" to a generation, alas, the Baroque Cycle doesn't live up to it.

In order to prolong the agony, I'm taking a break and reading Barack Obama's book "Dreams of my Father" which is good. Strike that--amazingly inspirational. I think it's interesting because of the way he identifies himself with different communities, but he's always searching for "home." Sounds familiar. Also he has a tendency to talk in grand flights of grandiloquence like yours truly. And I'm slightly embarassed that when he was twenty-five, living in Chicago, he was heading up community action organizations, whereas I'm not doing much bub blogging, but his experiences are so inspirational that I'm going to see if there's an organization where I can get involved. I'm sad to see how much he's changed now that's a big-shot politician, but I can totally identify with young-idealistic-Barack. I definitely recommend this book--some of you might be getting it for Christmas.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

omg spukt!!!

So I know I wasn't really sure how I felt about this whole Internet thingy, with the facebooking and the reconnecting with people who I maybe should just never think about again, and then I read stories about women and their psycho exes stalking them years later--but. I think that it might just be okay. I have such a far-flung network of people that I talk to that without the internets I honestly don't know how I'd keep in touch with everyone. I usually spend two to three hours a day emailing, y'all. And sometimes, all you want to know about a person is what they can cram into a Facebook update. The downside of course, is that I spend two to three hours a day emailing, and then sit at home alone, warm and fuzzy in the knowledge of my web of friends.

But the exciting thing is that I am planning to celebrate my birthday this year, and have been assiduously inviting people from all over the world to come and take part--and it actually appears as though I may have people from all over the world coming to take part! Yay! Friends from high school, UWSP, Goldsmiths, Chicago, all mixing together gloriously, all connected by a common thread: Me. Like Zaphod Beeblebrox, I have discovered I am the center of the universe. Yay. And if you're reading this, you're invited too--so save the date: DECEMBER 21st!!! We will be attending the tale of Sweeney Todd, then retiring to an establishment to partake of adult beverages and possibly pancakes. If you're interested in coming and haven't received an invitation, please email me and I will add you to the list.

MEANWHILE. If you're like me and dying with impatience for sweeeeeney to come out, then why not join me in another musical adventure, this one staring Napoleon? You think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding. I read about "SPUKT" today in the paper--and it instantly moved up to the top o' my list of plays to see. A musical adventure about Napoleon that details his mid-eastern conquests? Good lord, it sounds like something I would write. I will just say right now though that if there isn't a passing reference to Nelson I will be sorely disappointed. Still an all though--promises to be great fun.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bone-crunching coldness

Firstly I'd like to apologise for my smarmy remark in my last post where I said that I was feeling smugly benevolent toward a man who was clearly escaping the cold in the library and who had fallen asleep. It's actually not funny, even the fact that I was sleeping too, and inappropriate for me to say something like that. Part of the reason I liked the free museums in London, after all heat and AC when you were roaming around the city.

This is the sketch I included on the cover of my Madison app to give it "character." Note the cup of tea and book.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Happy Place

I left a couple hours early for work so I could stop at the happy place--aka the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago--and do some more research for 1776. This library is big and gorgeous, truly, a monument to Learning, but it is also a place where homeless people can be inside and warm, provided they are not disrupting patrons. Signs posted around the library tell us that we are not allowed here if we have "neglected our bodily hygeine so that it gives offense to other patrons" and we are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or sleep. I was feelingly smugly benevolent as I tolerated a gentleman snoring quietly behind me, until I realised that I had infact fallen asleep on "Jefferson's Pillow" (the title of the book--no joke) and may or may not have drooled slightly on my hand. At which point I decided to go for coffee. My find of the day was a historical map of Philadelphia from 1776 which was in a book that was, oh, roughly the size of a Smartcar that I managed to wrestle onto the photocopier which promptly spat out a letter-sized sheet that included most of the river and none of the city. Dar.

On my way to work I passed by a tall, bushy white hippie wearing Hari Krishna robes and holding a sign that said "World Peace Through Marijuana" with a helpful little peace sign drawn underneath. As I was passing he offered me a...piece of paper and said "hey, come on, check out my website, it's free! You can't be ignorant all your life!" So I turned around and beat him over the head with his stupid sign. Well, no, but I really wanted to. About the only thing less productive than smoking pot is standing on a street corner, advocating that pot will stop the world's evils. The ignorant comment rankled as well: I almost opened up my very full backpack to show him the mountains of knowledge that I would soon absorb. That's the second time in a couple weeks someone has accused me indirectly of being stupid. Coming on the day when I (lovingly) dropped my PhD materials into the mail for Madison, I'm hoping that it's just a coincidence and not verifiable fact. (wait, there was a GRE word for that...empirical! that was it) I felt much better once I got on the subway and listened in on a conversation that involved two girls discussing at great length the length of their hair--then I realised they were probably students at DePaul, and therefore probably eighteen and I began to ardently wish I was eighteen again. Then I remembered the terrible perm I had when I was eighteen and decided maybe I was better off being in my late early twenties after all--clearly, I'm a lot smarter now anyway.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

That's what you get for stealing from the New York Times

Apparently no one could see the photo of Michael Cerveris yesterday, so here is the link to the article. Click on "Expand this photo" for full effect.

I worry that someday Michael Cerveris is going to google his own name (as you do sometimes) and stumble across my blog and then I won't even have to MEET him to add him to my list of "Actors I Have Embarassed Myself In Front Of." Michael, if you're reading this, you're awesome. If you ever need a dog walker, let me know.

So after a very long day of work yesterday, I arrived home, took a shower, put on my trackies and curled up on the couch for a brief spell o'TV before bed. Then I realised it was six o'clock and that with the time change, I actually had like four hours to kill before bed. Oops. Should have gone for a walk or done something productive. Luckily for me, MTV was showing "Legally Blonde on Broadway" so I had something to distract me.

I am so ashamed. All of my loyal readers know that I am a huge fan of musicals, with huge reservations about movies turned into musicals, that I seek out little-known musicals to listen to and enjoy over and over again, that I actually have very little faith in Broadway ever since "Spamalot" won the Tony for best musical. I am therefore ashamed to say that I enjoyed the hell out of "Legally Blonde."

I know! I know! Oh, the shame! I was equally annoyed by the assumptions the characters made and buoyed up by the message of the show. I'm sure you're all familiar with the movie--well, the musical is that cranked up to eleven. The most annoying song was the one (I can't remember what it was called, they all sounded the same) where the Delta Nu girls were urging Elle to maim her ex's new girlfriend, and then, when Elle said violence wasn't the answer, urging her to turn on her inner skank and win her man back. I was thinking "musical theatre is supposed to be about empowering women, how can this show claim to be women-friendly when the tricks these women use are the sort of deceptive tricks that are shallow and mean?"

But then Elle turned around and proved to be not the bubble-head we all thought she was when she said "No, I will go to Harvard and prove I am smart--exactly the girl he wants!" After she realised that Winning Her Man wasn't the most important thing in her life--becoming a lawyer was--I was totally cheering for her. I especially appreciated the songs about having a chip on your shoulder about being smart and the one about getting what's important. Maybe it's just because I am hoping to embark on highest education myself, but I found the message of being smart and still being yourself to be really heartening. Also, the fact that whenever Kyle the UPS guy walked in the music turned into 70's porn-video. I think I might have to get the script and pick it apart from a feminist viewpoint--I appreciate the chance to oogle the hot UPS guy, but doesn't that just make women no better than the drooling men we're supposed to be hodling to a higher standard? Okay--I'm reading too much in to this, but, but for sheer funness and laugh out loud humor (not to mention two dogs!) "Legally Blonde" gets the thumbs-up. I am embarassed to say.

Now as long as I steer clear of the Disney Channel and one of their endless repeats of "High School Musical" maybe I have a hope to retain some of my musical theatre street-cred.

Elle goes to Harvard, Nicki hides her head in embarassment.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Your Love Will Live In Me

Do you hear that? That is the silence that has descended now that the gears in my head have finally wound down--I've finished my application for Madison. It is printed, bound, shiny and ready to be posted. I just want to sleep with it under my pillow for a few days. For Luck. Madison sent me a link to a website so I can track the progress of my application...yeah. Maybe wait a few weeks before I start compulsively checking.

But more on that anon. I decided to reward myself by going to see Chicago Shakespeare's production of "Passion," another Sondheim/Lapine musical. "Passion" is a hard play to put on--it's not particularly happy, and the music is very...weird. The singers in the show were solidly good, but not spectacular, except for Ana Gasteyer, who positively inhabited her character. Everyone else leaned a little to the "musical theatre" end of the spectrum--she totally ruled as Fosca. Overall, a solid interpretation of a weird little play that is also not without it's faults.

I like "Passion" because I can relate to the story. Basically Giorgio, a solider, is totally enraptured with Clara until he is shipped out to a dreary outpost in 1860s Italy, and becomes the object of Fosca's burning affection. Fosca is ugly, ill and slightly anti-social, the opposite of the angelic Clara. He resists for most of the play, but her love for him is so passionate, so all-consuming that in the end his resistance is burned away. One of my favourite lines from the play last night was "I don't know how to love. No one's ever shown me how to love. All I have are these emotions, and I don't know what to do with them." I thought that "Passion" would teach me a lesson about temperance in love, but instead it teaches the opposite: revel in your feelings, because that is the most honest thing of all. The ending reminded me vaguely of "Pride & Predjudice," where the lovers' one kiss conveys more passion than anything Lydia might have done--so too Giorgio's cautious handholding with Fosca is somehow more satisfying than the beginning of the play which is lights up on him and Clara en flagrante.

I'm not a huge fan of "Shakespeare" companies, I worry that you limit yourself too much, so I'm always glad to see them branching out. If I had to pair this show with another one, I would actually do "Sweet Charity" since both deal with women who are not afraid to love or constrained by the role that society has for them.

I wanted to put up a picture from the show I saw last night, even though I didn't think the Giorgio was anything spectacular. But then I found this one of Audra MacDonald and Michael Cerveris, with no pants on. Enjoy!

Friday, November 02, 2007

snorts of laughter

I saw this nickel yesterday when I was cashing out, and I thought "Louisiana Purchase, oh look at the nice French guy and American guy shaking hands, awww." Then I read online that it's actually an American guy and an Indian shaking hands, and that made me laugh a little. "Thanks for coming to have a look at our land before taking it over."

Speaking of history, after I paid my bills this month, I have $63 dollars left in my checking account. Now. Food or splurge?


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Imperialist Tendencies

Last week I read a story about a children’s charity from France called Zoe’s Ark, with the stated purpose of getting orphans out of Darfur and adopted by families in France. So far, so good.

Except the orphans…uh…aren’t orphans.

Also they may not be from Darfur, but neighboring Chad.

And now the leaders of Zoe’s Ark are being held on charges of kidnapping and child trafficking.

Many of the children, aged 2-8 or so, are too young to be able to give accurate information about where their families are, or where they are from, so it may be awhile before they go back home. I was struck by this article from the BBC, which talks about how these actions will reverberate around Chad: aid workers from all over the world (largely white) are now viewed with suspicion, being tarred with the same brush as Zoe’s Ark. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading too many blogs about babies, but this strikes me as hugely imperialistic. The mentality that Westerners can swoop in and “give these children a better life” is a little uncomfortable and slightly offensive to me. Obviously, I have heard wonderful stories about families who welcome children from different countries, but the image of Angelina Jolie or Madonna jetting into a country to do a little PR and pick up a kiddie while they’re there is merely propagating the idea that Africa or Asia is not a good place to have children. This whole thing with Zoe’s Ark is less a tragedy of kids being separated from their families than it is a holdover from an imperialistic age, where Western countries would graciously civilize the savages, since they didn’t know any better.

I also read today that the pilot of the Enola Gay—the plane that dropped “the” bomb on Hiroshima, has passed away. I wish I could have known this guy. Just reading the few quotes they had from him on the Beeb’s website made it sound like he was a neat old coot. The thing that struck me about this article was the fact that Gen. Paul Tibbetts had no regrets about dropping the bomb—and no conundrums about why he did it or blinders on about the country he was bombing. I am anti-war, as you know, so it is a relief to me to see that someone with this huge responsibility is able to perpetrate acts of war with a clear sight of what will happen and why, instead of this bungling around in foreign countries. The final quote of Gen. Tibbetts says that it’s a “damn shame” that the focus today is on the suffering of Japan and not on the military crimes they perpetrated. I know my loyal readers are probably thinking it’s weird that I blast an “adoption” agency for being imperialistic Westerners and then praise the guy who bombed Hiroshima in the same post, but I think that Tibbetts gets it. Japan was a very different country sixty years ago. I see no problem talking about the crimes they committed then in context with the suffering that happened or the country they are today. (Much the same way I have no problem talking about the awesomeness of America sixty years ago compared with our, er, problems today.)

It is important to keep things in perspective. Countries today are the cumulative experiences of our past, and we have to acknowledge those experiences to appreciate the choices people make today. We might see nothing wrong with adopting children from overseas—but for former colonies, having la France swoop in AGAIN is a touchy subject. Just the same way that General Tibbetts has requested no headstone, lest it become a place for today’s protestors, even though he received thousands of thankful letters from WWII vets for ending the war quickly.