Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Depressing--in a low rent sort of way

When I think of the Larry Craig mess I want to reach for the thesaurus, searching for a word that sums it all up. How about these: sordid, squalid, pathetic, ludicrous. I believe it is all of these.

To me the sight of a grown man groveling and trying to explain the inexplicable while his enemies tear the flesh off his body and his erstwhile friends run away from him--well, it's depressing, yes, unedifying, but in a trailer park kind of way.

The evidence given by the arresting officer is weird: who knew that raising your foot and tapping your toe is evidence of illicit desire? I feel like Rip van Winkle waking up after 100 years: this modern world is just too much for me. In my state of deep cluelessness I might have assumed that the man was just trying to get the mud off his shoe. These subtleties are too deep for me.

And in what way is all this shoe tapping disturbing the public order? Please explain in 100 words or less.

The most disturbing feature of the whole thing is the absolute glee being taken in tormenting the man. His tormentors are schoolyard bullies grown to man's estate, but still totally without empathy for another's suffering. Their glee disgusts and nauseates me.

I hope each and every one of his tormentors is discovered in a compromising position with a live boy or a dead girl. Or perhaps having abandoned a woman to drown in a waterlogged car. Or discovered with $90,000 of illegal swag in his freezer.

Clotheslines make a comeback

as a way to save energy.

Hmmm. I used to hang my laundry on a clothesline, back in the day. I didn't have a dryer. So I have a few questions:

Has bringing solidly frozen towels into your nice warm house made a comeback? How about stuff that got caught in the rain, soaked, and covered with particulate matter? What about the laundry that falls into the dirt from the clothesline, or the stuff that blows away in a stiff wind? Any of this stuff made a comeback?

If you want to take my dryer away, you'll have to take my lifeless body with it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Every decade has its very own crisis

according to shoprat.

1960s -- Overpopulation! Famines by the mid-70s!

1970s -- A new ice age! Crop failures and famines real soon!

1980s -- Acid Rain! The rain would eat through and kill everything! We're doomed!

1990s -- Hole in the ozone layer! We're all going to get cancer and die!

2000s -- Global Warming! We're doomed I tell you! . . Doomed!

What's next?

Problem is when a real crisis hits these idiots will be the last ones to notice.

The coastal or commie side of my family

It seems like I'm always writing about my Ohio relatives, so I thought I'd better give equal time to those who cling, like barnacles, to the east or west coast. The coastal thing is not random, but a conscious decision. According to California Bro, no-one in the center of the country could possibly have anything to contribute to any rational discussion. This from a guy who believes Ron Dellums would make a hell of a good senator.

However, the spotlight character of this post is my uncle Joe. Joe was a selfish old rip who did exactly as he pleased. As my father said, he broke every rule at least twice. One of the rules he almost broke was the one against fratricide; when they were boys, he deliberately broke my father's arm. My father managed to survive until manhood, when he became taller and stronger than Joe, who was two years older than him. Despite, or because of this, they were very close, and by no means free of sibling rivalry.

Over the years, my father hinted, on more than one occasion he had had to go to Joe's rescue and get him out of one jam or another. For one thing, Joe was an inveterate gambler. He also liked to drink and was fond of ladies. He gave up the two latter diversions in his old age, but he never quit gambling. On one occasion, when Joe was visiting my father in New Jersey, he wouldn't unpack his bags until he had visited the casinos in Atlantic City.

Joe and his wife Alice lived in a lefty enclave in California (of course), where he never had to encounter anyone with ideas different from his. He started having heart attacks of increasing severity when he was in his fifties, but he was a tough old stick and he and Alice survived to the age of 90, she caring for him. Then she died.

Alice must have done a lot for Joe, for it became obvious after a while that he could not survive on his own. He was very frail and was in and out of the hospital several times. His daughters had to find someone to take care of him at last.

They were lucky enough to find Jenny, a graduate student at a local college. Jenny was kind, caring and gentle. She saw to Joe's taking his medications, eating regularly, and doing exercises in the pool at the Y. She drove him around in his car when he had to go somewhere. She kept him alive and functioning, and he was very fond of her.

Jenny finally completed her education and disappeared from the picture, and Joe had to go to a nursing home. In the course of cleaning out his apartment, the daughters discovered large sums of money were missing. His bank account, in which his social security and pension were automatically deposited, was empty. Jenny had robbed him blind.

What to do? She had saved my uncle's life, it was true, but she was a thief. The family finally got a lawyer and managed to get some of the money back. Meanwhile Joe, who was 97, finally died.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The seamy side of blogging...

I guess I should call it the technical side. In any case, I haven't really mastered it. There are lots of things I can't get my computer to do: port forwarding, anyone?

I can't seem to log on to any group blogs, although I used to post at blogcritics. I think there are some weird viruses on this computer. Also a lot of crep.

The computer will also have nothing to do with Adobe Reader. Why? I couldn't get the IRS forms I needed printed. Annoying.

Would a new computer help? Or should I lug this thing into one of those Geek Squad places? Warning: It's heavy. I don't want to move it if it is at all possible to avoid.

Another thing: I seem to be stuck in bird territory, readerwise. How can I break out? I've been doing this for over two years. It's time someone discovered how brilliant I am.

Grrrr!

We now return to our regular programing.

Most inspiring women?

Self magazine, which I subscribe to strictly as stairmaster reading, has a list of the most inspiring women of today. Among them are Hillary Clinton (yeah, I can see that), Oprah (definitely a candidate), and Maya Angelou (her self-promotion is inspiring).

Then we come to Sheryl Crow, she of the famous one square of toilet paper. I suppose she's better qualified than her chum Laurie David, who is famous for getting it on with the gardener while married to someone else.

But Sheryl Crow! Picture her little brain, rattling around in her head like a single frozen pea in a bucket, as she prattles on and on about saving the planet!

What about women scientists, businesswomen, engineers, explorers? What about women with a solid record of accomplishment?

These women inspire me to howl at the moon!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Comment moderation is on again

You wouldn't think anyone would take offense at my humble little blog, would you? Well, it has happened again. I am joining the author of those notorious Danish cartoons as being offensive to muslims. Will I become famous? Will someone burn me in effigy? Watch this space for further developments.

Wow! I feel like Patrick Henry. Or was it another of the founding fathers? Never mind, it was some dead white male. Don't bother me with details.

Why do I think that a comment that begins "Yo bitch!" is not an expression of reasoned discourse and is not going to get any better? I guess I just have a jaded view of human nature. Anyway, comment moderation is on. Yo, insulting commentors! Make of it what you will.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bubbe Mieces

If Bubbe had a blog, what would she blog about? She was not a person who shared her innermost feelings, unless contempt for stupidity is an innermost feeling.

Perhaps she could have told us about her early history, about which little is known. Unlike the cliche yiddishe mama, she did not grow up in a shtetl, but out in the country. I know nothing of her mother, whose name was Leah Fagel, or her father, sisters or brothers. She told me instead of living on or near a river, and how on nice days she and her friends would row down the river, singing songs. It sounded like an idyllic childhood. She learned to read and write at a Russian school.

My mother told me that my grandparents had lived a comfortable life. (Of course, mother would never admit having been born in Russia. She felt she was American through and through.) Uncle Moe did remember being a child in Russia. The family left Russia because my grandfather, then the father of two children, and having already served one term in the army, was about to be compelled to serve another four years.

Where did they live in the old country? Somewhere that was constantly being disputed by Poland and Russia. First the Russians would invade and conquer, then the Poles. My grandparents found themselves living first in Poland and then in Russia, without moving an inch. Consequently they were fluent in both languages. My uncle told me about living across the river from, I believe, Pinsk. The river fits what I know about her. When my mother and her siblings were small, she would take them on a streetcar from their home on the South side, to the North side, to rent a rowboat. My grandfather stayed home. "Papa was afraid of the water," according to my mother.

My grandfather had a promise of employment in Columbus, at the Hebrew school. Either the offer fell through, or he became ill, because it didn't happen. However, the family found themselves in Columbus, OH, in a place called Will Alley. The place was still there when I was a child and was a squalid slum. Eventually, like most of central Columbus, it was torn down and replaced by a highway, to no-one's regret.

My grandfather earned money by rolling cigars at home. This is confirmed by the US census, which also lists a son named Jacob. They had five children in all, two of whom, including Jacob, dropped off the face of the earth. They were never mentioned and as far as I could tell, no tear was shed for them. Being a parent myself, I am sure that plenty of tears were shed in private over losing two young children. But the only evidence of their existence was the occasional yahrzeit candle commemorating someone's death.

We never knew what happened to most of bubbe's relatives. I seem to recall, as if in a dream, seeing letters with foreign stamps arrive occasionally. These letters stopped coming before I was old enough to ask questions about them. Some of zayde's brothers and sisters had made it to America, mostly to Milwaukee, and another brother ended up in England, where he was a musician. But there was never a trace of bubbe's family. More yahrzeit candles appeared, with no explanations.

My mother also told me of one occasion when the three children shared a can of sardines for supper, along with bread and tea. When she asked what the grownups were eating, bubbe said, "Papa and I aren't hungry," and had plain bread and unsweetened tea.

They survived somehow, and things got better. A piano appeared, and lace curtains, and brass candlesticks. The two older children were excellent students who rushed through their studies at a breakneck pace. Mother graduated from high school at the age of 14 and got a job at the telephone company. Uncle Moe made her quit. She was destined for college.

The man who became my Uncle Doc was another story, always up to mischief, getting into trouble at school, bringing home stray animals. On one occasion he was expelled from high school for letting some white mice loose in the halls. My poor grandfather had to go to the school and beg them to give him another chance.

One of the reasons my family loved Columbus so and continue to do so has to be Ohio State University, which all the children attended with distinction. There was no thought of dorms or fraternities: they lived at home and took the streetcar to their classes. Uncle Moe went there through medical school and beyond; he became a professor of medicine. Uncle Doc also attended the medical school and became a surgeon.

Mother raced through college and law school (Ohio State, of course), passing the bar exam before she was legally old enough to practice law.

But I have strayed from bubbe's story, of which more later.

There's hope for me---

61%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Dating Site



but not much.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bubbe needed her own blog

My mother's mother, known to one and all as bubbe, was quite a woman. She came to a foreign country (this one) virtually penniless and with a sick husband, raised three children and buried two. To make ends meet, she borrowed $10 from a neighbor and started a grocery store in the family living room; she also tutored boys for bar mitzvah. Her family often went hungry despite her best efforts. My mother and her two brothers were very small and had bow legs, thanks to rickets. But all three grew up to be respectable citizens and became professionals.

Her family gave her the kind of respect Queen Elizabeth would love to have from hers. I don't think any of her children neglected to stop in at least once a day. They revered her.

She wasn't an easy woman. She had a razor-sharp tongue and didn't mind using it. Better than that, she had a ready wit and was never at a loss for words. Her remarks, in brilliant and untranslatable Yiddish, would take the paint off an old barn.

By the time I got acquainted with her, her struggles were mostly behind her. My grandfather's motto was peace at any price, so he mostly went along with anything she wanted. There was an occasional skirmish with an in-law, but that was hardly enough to keep her occupied. She was virtually sidelined. Sure, she presided at family feasts and felt free to offer her opinion or advice to anyone, but that was hardly a full-time job. What bubbe needed was a blog.

For thirty years after her death, people I hardly knew would come up to me and say, "Your grandmother was really something! I remember when she said..." Unfortunately, no-one wrote down her exact words, so they are lost to history. I am lucky enough to have a blog, and I am not nearly so clever as she and certainly not as lightning quick.

How she would have loved to have a forum! Unfortunately, she was born 75 years too soon.

Greetings from the womb

When is a fetus a baby?

When it sends greeting cards?

Otherwise, no.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Water lily pond, Longwood gardens

 
Posted by Picasa

I am a ham sandwich

You Are a Ham Sandwich

You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.
Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.
And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Not even kosher.

Vacation home for sale


Suitable for good swimmers.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Keep the jihadis away

Try bacon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Holding a grudge

The Ohio family members have very, very good memories, especially for slights. Cousin Bernie once skipped a family wedding because he had promised to take his kids on a camping trip, and even though the kids are grown and the bride and groom subsequently broke up, it is still remembered against him.

Another cousin would not attend her brother's wedding because he had not invited her daughter and daughter's husband. She offered to pay for the two of them. The happy groom refused, informing his sister that he had never liked H, the daughter's husband, all that much anyway. So she didn't go. Now she's mad, he's mad, and the new wife is probably wondering what she got herself into.

This cousin and her brother do share a bond: they are united in their resentment of their deceased parents for favoring a third sibling and leaving the family home to him.

For really superior grudge-holding, though, you would have to go to bubbe. She was the grudgemaster in chief. She nursed such a grudge against her husband's little sister that no-one knew the woman even existed until after bubbe died. Apparently the sister had moved to Milwaukee, crawled into the woodwork, and never came out until her nemesis was safely dead.

As a girl in Russia, bubbe had lived out in the country, and all the children apparently played together peacefully. Later, she had attended the local Russian Orthodox school. So she must have been able to tolerate Christians at one time. However, having met a few, she didn't think much of them. She realized, of course, that not all Christians were the scum of the earth enlisted for drink, but why take chances?

Oddly enough, black Christians were exempt from her scorn. That was a lucky break, as the first neighborhood she lived in in the US was largely black.

She also disapproved of my father. Nothing he did could please her. His family were Hungarian Jews, apparently a very bad sort of person to be. She called them--I am not kidding--Honkies.

Mother, on the other hand, was mad as hops at Dad, and stayed that way for the rest of her life. His sins, apart from the divorce, consisted of rushing into another marriage in indecent haste. We, her children, tried to keep her off the topic for fear she would burst a blood vessel just thinking about him.

Bad drivers (Ohio division)

My father's family, who I will call the Eastern and California division, are communists. My mother's family, however,all live in Ohio and are renowned as really rotten drivers. So bad that if they have spouses, the spouses are delegated to drive.

Mother never liked to drive, and while she was married to my father, she never did. When they divorced, she purchased a car and took driving lessons. Amazingly, she passed the test, parallel parking for the only time in her life; and became a menace on the road. She tried her hand at multitasking, but was an absolute failure at it. Mother had a habit of turning her head to look at her passenger if said passenger was foolhardy enough to try to keep up a conversation in the car. Of course, this meant she lost sight of the road, but only momentarily. She was also so short that the car looked like it was being driven by a little munchkin. All you could see of her was a couple of small hands clutching the wheel and a pair of brown eyes peering over it. Even using a pillow didn't seem to help much. Mother just wasn't physically designed to drive a car.

As for parking: mother looked at the curb, and took careful aim at it. When she got anywhere remotely close to the curb, she turned off the motor and abandoned the car, sometimes not too far from the middle of the street. She used to be in the habit of leaving the keys in the car (so she wouldn't lose them). Young people would steal the car from time to time. She finally started to take the keys with her, at the request of the Bexley police.

The last time I drove with my brother the genius he spent the entire time yelling at the kids on the rare occasions he took his eyes off the map; that was ten years ago. Brother also wore a crash helmet when he drove--perhaps not the worst idea, given his level of driving skill. He was even a lousy passenger, given to outbursts of "Watch out!" and loud dramatic gasps. I once threatened to let him out of the car on the New Jersey Turnpike if he didn't shut up.

Uncle Moe was a pioneer: he was the first person ever observed driving 20 miles per hour in the left hand lane with his blinkers on. He drove ever so s-l-o-w-l-y, too slowly to injure of kill anyone. However, he did inspire thoughts of murder in other drivers.

Uncle Doc was the absolute worst. His mind was on his destination, and he became angry with other drivers who he felt were holding him back. Uncle Doc's MO for switching lanes: 1)signal briefly; 2) go into other lane, hoping that one of the unfortunates who shared the road got out of the way in time. Sometimes they did, other times, they didn't, the silly asses.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

If you really cared about the planet, you would drive

...because driving uses less energy than walking.

Ht to Robert George.

Bad boys and aristocratic men

Writing about love stories, Rachel examines the attraction of Heathcliff:

[T]here's a certain type of girl who likes bad boys and nobody is badder than Heathcliff.


True enough. Heathcliff is elemental, earthy. He symbolizes raw masculinity. He is the kind of guy you see on a construction project without his shirt. He is sweaty and might have dirt under his fingernails. Think of the young Brando.
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The polar opposite of Heathcliff is Mr Darcy: tall, dark and handsome, and aristocratic down to his fingernails, which assuredly don't have dirt under them. I picture him as looking broody and soulful. He struggles to hide his devotion to the heroine, but behaves nobly given a chance. I always think of him as looking like James Mason, the young Mason, actually, although Colin Firth will do in a pinch.


Both of these archetypal young men were the creation of spinsters, women who as far as we know had no actual romantic experience. That's why they are such pure types.

In reality, Heathcliff would have assuaged his love for Cathy by knocking a few beers back with the boys, while Darcy would find himself distracted from thoughts of Elizabeth by the necessity of meeting with his business manager to go over his portfolio.

However, it is nice to dream of such devotion.

Back to the nuthouse

Last week I spent a couple of days among some of my sweet, crazy relatives. One of the dearest, nicest members of my family--let's call her Auntie X--is a rabid Democrat.

I like Auntie X. She's generous, kind, intelligent and cultured. I have to believe that she is a discerning woman because she loves to read and enjoys the same books I do. We both loved Medicus and Imperium., a book about Cicero. We both then read biographies of Cicero and found them fascinating. We both love Trollope, and have rad everything we could get our hands on of his.

She also has common sense and a sense of humor. So what's not to like?

Auntie X believes that Republicans eat human flesh, so I try to avoid political subjects when I am around her. I don't want to give the poor woman a heart attack. But she has no such compunction about me, I guess because the poor woman has no idea I am one of the Enemy. She is always handing me her copy of the New York Times, and suggesting I read Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd. Or offering to lend me her copy of Richard Dawkins's book proving there is no God.

In this she resembles my cat Toby, who liked to bring me the bodies of small dead animals as a special treat and a token of his esteem. As with Toby, I appreciate the sentiment but would rather not.

So who's crazy here, me or her? Please advise.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Russia encourages sex among young people...

in the hopes of making more babies.

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp's mass wedding. "They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia".

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.


Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear - supposedly a cause of sterility - and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp's first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Attempting to raise Russia's dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country's demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.



Excuse me? Are these Russians timid or naive? Don't they know how to, erm, make babies? American youth need no inducement to screw like bunnies. From the evidence now being wheeled around in baby carriages, I would say they are definitely adept at reproduction. Nor do they let the lack of a marriage license stand in their way.

Still, in order to get a fix on youth opinion, I assembled a bunch of teens, aged 13 to 17. 97 percent of them thought that an all-expenses-paid two-week vacation with unlimited screwing was a good idea. The other three percent felt that three weeks would be even better.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Half-empty glass

The tragic view of life runs in my husband's family.

Mr Charm has a gloomy world view. Not only is the proverbial glass half empty--it's probably two thirds empty, if the truth were known. And the half that is left is rapidly evaporating. The glass will soon be empty, and probably has a crack in it. And soon civilization as we know it will come to a halt.

I used to attribute his attitude to his obsession with history. He even has a PhD in history, which would give anyone a morbid cast of mind. But, thinking things over, I attribute it to his grandmother, who lived with his family when he was a boy.

Anyone who doesn't think depression is a communicable disease did not know Grandma. At the age of 50, she decided she was too old to go to the movies, and it went downhill from there. Her hobby was sitting all alone in her room, thinking about the days that were dead and gone.

A conversation with Grandma:

Me: Hi, grandma, how are you? I brought you some magazines to read.
Grandma: I can't read magazines anymore, my eyes are too bad. But thanks.
Me: Well, how have you been?
G: I'm an old woman, how should I be? I wish I were in the graveyard with M.
Me: Oh, the baby is crying. I'd better see what she wants. (Rapid exit)

My new charity

It's all in the name. A rose by any other name doesn't smell nearly as good. Trust me on this.

It so happens I am starting my own charity, and I'm calling it the Patriotic Americans for Peace, Justice, Sustainable Living, Human Rights and Children. With a title like that it can't miss. Won't you join me?

I've noticed that organizations are given credibility in accordance with their title. Call you organization the Arab Anti-Zionist League, and everyone will sneer. Call it Arab Human Rights Organization Chowder and Marching Society, and you will get respectful attention in the press.

You don't have to have a fancy building. You don't even need a phone. You sure don't need a lot of members. The Hammurabi Society, which started all this carry-on about Haditha, consists of two guys. But that's good enough for Time magazine. Hammurabi! It has a ring to it! It must be important!

Words that will insure your organization's success: civil rights, civil liberties, human rights (but not human liberties, don't ask me why). Justice. Peace. Conservation. Fairness. Environment. Especially Saving the Environment--if you call your group the League for Despoiling the Environment you're off to a bad start. Remember, saving, good. Not saving, not so good. In fact, saving anything makes a nice title: whales, forests, baby seals, wilderness.

And the trump card: children. Even if your mission statement includes cutting children into small pieces and feeding them to alligators, the MSM doesn't care. In fact, they'll never know. You could call it Society for Preservation of Children and Alligators and no-one would bat an eyelash.

Now that you know how it works, how about joining me? We have quite a lot of wine in the basement, and while we drink it we can figure out some excuse for our existence. And you'll get our newsletter absolutely free!

Nine reasons for a woman not to want to be a muslim

9. It's hot in the summer under all those clothes;
8. Poor vision under burkas makes you bump into pedestrians;
7. You can't go anywhere unless your husband/brother/father/son wants to go with you
(How do Muslim women do any shopping?)
6. Sitting around the ladies' quarters with the girls gets old after a while;
5. Guys get to dance, women don't;
4. Guys get kalashnikovs, women get pregnant;
3. Your husband's other wives are b***h*;
2. A woman who is raped gets executed, while the guy gets to brag about what a good lay she is;
1. To be decided later.

How to keep people awake during religious services

Jews, Christians, and Muslims celebrate their respective sabbaths differently.

Friday sermons in Islam (aka the Religion of Peace) are a little different from the Judeo-Christian kind that take place on Saturday (the Judeos) or Sunday (the Christians).

When I attend the Judeo services (not as often as I should), the rabbis wax long about loving your fellow man, making nice, and supporting worthy causes, while the congregants quietly catch up on their sleep.

The Christians (Protestant league) have to squirm in their seats while the minister talks about loving your fellow man, forgiving your enemies, and being an all-around good person.

The Catholic division reads from a playbook, so the priest doesn't have much to say off the cuff. When he does let loose with a sermon, he always talks about loving your fellow man, etc., while the parishioners steal glances at their watches and wonder if they will get home in time to watch the game. And this bunch has some kind of peaceloving hugfest which concludes the festivities.

I've never attended Friday prayers at a mosque, but you don't have to. You can read about their sermons in the newspapers. They call Jews pigs and dogs, Christians are crusaders--and they don't mean it as a compliment--and atheists--oy vey! All three of the aforementioned groups--have I forgotten anyone? are rotten infidels and should be killed by Muslims ASAP.

Those Imams really know how to work a crowd. No nodding heads in their congregations! Their listeners take their words to heart and go out to do their level best to wipe out the rest of us. None of that love-thy-neighbor guff from them!

(Reprinted from last May.)

So these six librarians

go into a restaurant...

They're at a Library Convention and they're really going to party down--on the expense account, no less. Sheer debauchery.

First up are drinks. We have two people here who want actual liquor, two who want soda, and two who want drinks with umbrellas in them.

Ordering food takes forever; "The bean soup sounds good." "What are you having, Marianne?" (Every other librarian in New Jersey is called Marianne, Mary, Mary Ann, Mary Rose, Mary Lou, Mary Jane--you get the picture.)*

Soup or salad? Steak or fish? Should we stick to our diet (every other librarian in New Jersey is on a diet) or go hog wild?

A consensus having been reached, the wait staffer (we librarians don't use sexist language, but she is a woman) takes all orders and disappears to the kitchen.

The festive meal arrives and is consumed, accompanied by catching up, gossip, and gripes. Zero hour has now arrived.

The lone male librarian ventures timidly that it would be nice if we split the check six ways. The suggestion is met with scorn, and the check is scrutinized by one and all.
Lib I: "Marianne had the soup."
Marianne: "Yes, but I only had salad; you had steak--24.95!"
Lib I: "Okay. Sheila had the chicken florentine."
Sheila: "All I had to drink was a diet coke--Susan had two beers."
Lib I: "Who had the red snapper?"

And so it goes. Finally, detente is reached. It is now time to calculate the tip.
Male librarian: "Tip should be $60--five dollars each. That's three times the tax, which is 6 percent."
Librarian III, who has hitherto been silent: "Yes, but you're not supposed to count the drinks when you calculate the tip."
Male librarian: (silently) Oy vey! (Throws money on the table.)
Marianne: You gave me too much. Here--take back three dollars. Wait--does anyone have change for a twenty?
Male librarian: (Unprintable remark, silently.)

*Many librarians also answer to the name of Marie. Or Anne-Marie. Oh, forget it.

Here's how my dental woes started...

back in New Jersey. Here's a little trip down memory lane:

I used to love my dentist. I went every three months and enjoyed being told I had good oral hygiene and keep up the good work, including visiting him every three months. He gave me unlimited toothpaste, dental threaders, and dental floss. I figured I was saving money not having to buy these necessities.

On my last visit, there was a sea change. I had a toothache. Suddenly my mouth was in crisis, as the dentist and his partners looked into my mouth, took a sudden sharp breath, and shook their collective heads. In the six weeks since my last cleaning, my mouth had become a disaster zone, the oral equivalent of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. An emergency session of Congress would need to be called to deal with the catastrophe--or--I could have some really expensive work done.

Needless to say, I had dropped my dental insurance, due to the previously wonderful condition of my mouth, plus the fact that he had fixed every tooth I possessed two or three times. I figured, what else could happen? As it turned out, plenty. Now my gums and even my bones were involved. For all I know, the rot could have spread to my feet.

Mr Charm, by contrast, never went to the dentist, because his teeth didn't bother him. After ten dentist-free years, I forced him to get his teeth cleaned and evaluated. The verdict: his teeth were in splendid condition.

So now I know the secret of oral health: skip the dentist entirely. Buy your dental floss at the drugstore.

Also, keep your dental insurance.


You know what? This is still going on. I am in media res, so to speak.

Sickening news from Iran

A bloodbath is going on. Read about it.

I bet these unfortunates would be happy to be at Gitmo.

Seriously, the brutality of the regime is horrifying.

The New York Times reveals bias

I'm sick of the MSM calling groups and people allied with terrorists "conservative."

What's conservative about cutting off people's heads and murdering babies? Setting off IEDs? Conservatives I know don't engage in such activities. But the Times is convinced that Islamic extremists are conservative. Ditto Nazis, even though the Nazi party was called the National Socialist Party.

How about this paragraph?

In their complaint, lawyers for Sept. 11 relatives argue that the early alliances formed by the prince with conservative political and religious figures in Sudan and Egypt as well as the banking services DMI has provided to people and organizations who would be declared terrorists after Sept. 11 are proof that the prince and the trust have “conspired with Al Qaeda and the other defendants to carry out terrorist attacks.”


I don't think Conservatives should sit still for this kind of thing. Let's yell our heads off.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The tao of bagels...also pastrami

Jack muses about bagels, and adds this:

I continue to be dismayed by the horrific bagels that some people have concocted.

It is too upsetting to list them here, but suffice it to say that some of you use mayonnaise on your pastrami.


There are some weird bagels out there, all right.

The best bagels come from New York City, and the farther you get from NY, the worse they are. I have not had a decent one in Delaware.

Turning now to the subject of pastrami, application of mayonnaise to, I have to tell you about the worst pastrami sandwich I have ever had. We were at Jacob's Pillow, and wanted to have a little something before the performance. So I ordered a pastrami sandwich. On rye. The classic. When I bit into it, I found that not only had mayonnaise been applied to the bread, but it had been applied a long time previously and had had ample time to sink in, leaving the bread so soggy that you couldn't pick it up in your hands without it falling apart. Gross.

The pastrami itself wasn't very good either.

That should teach me that places that are selling culture shouldn't be selling food. Food should be sold at places where people go to eat.

How to predict climate change

I've often wondered how Algore et al figured out to such a nicety what the temperature of the earth would be. They must employ scrupulous scientific methods, no? To be so confident?

Well, I've found out how they do it. First, they slaughter a chicken. They then examine the entrails carefully and draw their conclusions.

Of course scientific experiments must be duplicated to be valid. So the experts slaughter another chicken. If this one has similar entrails, they are well on their way. If the experts are still not sure, they slaughter a duck or goose. Some go so far as to slaughter pigeons or Canada geese, but that's pushing it. Slaughtering robins or purple martins are a big no-no.

Actually, I have been lying to you. Babytrolling has the actual methodology. I was just pulling your leg.

Studying chicken entrails! No-one would believe that! Now taking air samples, that makes sense, doesn't it? Sort of?

Maybe we should stick to entrails. At least you get a chicken dinner at the end of the day.

Want to save energy and help the environment?

Raise the speed limit to 100 miles per hour.

The case of the missing index cards

Mr Charm has been walking around the house, searching in every nook and cranny and becoming progressively louder, until I acknowledge his presence.

Mr C: "I swear to God, nothing of mine is in the right place. I can never find anything. All my stuff is lost!"

Me: "What are you looking for?"

"I want my index cards! I have always written things down on index cards. Where are my index cards? I can't find any of my stuff! This house is a mess."

Me: "How about using post-it notes?"

Mr C: "I don't want those! I want my index cards!"

Me: "How about a legal pad?"

Mr C: "That's too big! I want to write something down and put it in my pocket. Where are my index cards?"

I decided years ago that I had to either ignore him or kill him.

(recycled)

More of our young people are dying......

In Iraq? No, in Philadelphia.


I didn't hear the cars screech to a halt, but one of the trauma nurses did. He ran outside with two emergency department medics to find several people in a car, all of their clothes soaked with blood. The passengers were screaming for someone to help the young man in the front seat, who was unresponsive. The team threw the limp victim onto a gurney, one of several that stand waiting for these types of scenarios, which occur almost nightly at our trauma center.

As the gurney rolled in, I saw a lifeless young man with more gunshot wounds than I could count. I was poised to start a resuscitation effort when a voice behind me announced that three more were coming in. As the team started CPR and checked for cardiac activity, the second and third victims were wheeled in....


In the swirl of screams and moving figures, my mind drifted to my recent experience in Iraq as an Army surgeon. There we dealt regularly with "mascals," or mass-casualty situations. In Iraq, ironically, I found myself drawing on my experience as a civilian trauma surgeon each time mascals would overrun the combat hospital. As nine or 10 patients from a firefight rolled in, I sometimes caught myself saying "just like another Friday night in West Philadelphia."

The wounds and nationalities of the patients are different, but the feelings of helplessness, despair and loss are the same. In Iraq, soldiers die for freedom, for honor, for their country, and their buddies. Here in Philadelphia, civilians die without honor, without purpose, for no country, for no one.

More young men are killed each day on the streets of America than on the worst days of carnage and loss in Iraq. There is a war at home raging every day, filling our trauma centers with so many wounded children that it sometimes makes Baghdad seem like a quiet city in Iowa.

Unlike the Iraq conflict, this war is not on the front pages of America's newspapers or on CNN. You have heard of the Washington area sniper shootings and the massacre at Virginia Tech. I am sure fewer readers outside Philadelphia have heard about the "Lex Street massacre," in which 10 people ages 15 to 56 were lined up and shot, execution-style, in the winter of 2000. Seven were killed, three critically injured.

They haven't heard about this tragedy because it happened to inner-city poor people in a crack house in Philadelphia. Imagine, for a moment, if this had occurred in a suburban shopping mall, or if a Marine unit in Iraq had been involved. There would be shock, outrage, 24-hour news coverage, Senate hearings, a new color of ribbon to wear.

That double standard, that triage of compassion and empathy, is why the war on the streets continues unabated.


Read the whole thing.

At last--a worthwhile charity



Go to Rachel at Tinkerty Tonk for details.

Let's all pitch in and help a fellow blogger.

Honk if you hate bumper stickers

I wrote this last April:

I'm not a fan of prefabricated sentiments or canned cleverness. If you're going to be clever, make up your own snappy sayings.

I started to hate bumperstickers when anti-war protestors sported this one: War is bad for children and other living things. This statement manages to be both sanctimonious and smarmy. For "war" you could sustitute pollution, smoking, transfats, or any other damn thing.

I was driving behind some idiot whose bumper sticker read: Somewhere in Texas a village is missing an idiot.
Well, someone in Delaware is not missing a very stupid driver.
Then there's the ever popular

Bush lied, people died.



By the way, I don't care for Nuke the whales, My other car is a Mercedes, or--I could go on, but what's the point?

Meanwhile, things have gone from bad to worse. The other day I was in a store in Pittsfield, MA. It was a cute little place, and I was going to buy something to take home to add to the other useless items in my collection of dust-catchers.

I had a little tickle in my throat, and I was coughing, which is something that happens when I am around dust, grass, mold or trees. So the nice lady proprietor offered me a mint. Unfortunately, it was in a tin marked "impeachmints." She made a point of showing this to me.

I thought this was nasty, and I got out of there without buying anything.

The British scuttle their allies

Very humanitarian.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Philadelphians talk funny

I wrote this when I first moved to Delaware. I know what a Skoogle is now. But I still think Philadelphians talk funny.

I listen to NPR in my car. I know it raises my blood pressure and makes every hair on my head stand up in rage. However.

We in northern Delaware are too small and primitive to have our own public radio station. The whole state only has one Congressman, for God's sake. Of course, Senator Biden talks enough for an entire delegation from a medium-sized state, so that kind of makes up for it. Sort of. You could say.

Now you ask: what does this have to do with Philadelphians, who reside in a whole nother state for God's sake? Why dump on them?

Okay. As I say, we don't have our own NPR, so we make do with Philadelphia's. We don't even get our own weather, we have to borrow it from Philadelphia. We're just a miserable hinterland, unworthy of having our own rush hour traffic reports. We have to make do with those across the state lines. The traffic report even mentions New Jersey, from time to time, but never a word about Delaware.

Actually, I find this quite soothing, tooling around Delaware at 4 o'clock and hearing about tractor trailers overturning on I-95 south while I whiz through back roads. There's just one thing that puzzles me about the Philly traffic reports.

What in God's name is the Skoogle? Could this possibly be how you pronounce Schuylkill? And if so, Why?

As I say, Philadelphians talk funny.

Now don't get me wrong. You guys have the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy's Ross' house, etc. You're world class. But Skoogle? It sounds like some kind of Jewish food, a kugel with chocolate chips in it maybe.

Men can't find anything, even if it is where they put it

I have at least 1,000,000 things in this house, and I can find 999,999 of them, and I don't need the other one anyway, and anyway it will turn up, maybe.

The scenario in the Charm household goes like this:

Mr C: What did you do with my keys?
Me: (pretend I didn't hear him).

Mr C: You must have put them somewhere.
Me: Where were you when you had them last?
Mr C: (accusingly) right here!
I find keys, exactly where he put them, cleverly hidden by today's paper, which he put on top of them.

Alternative scenario:
Me: Maybe they're in the bedroom?
Mr C: I wasn't in the bedroom!
I find keys in bedroom, on top of his bureau.
Mr C: Oh.

PS: I never clean his office. You should see it.

Kvetcher nation

Whatever happened to the old pioneer spirit? Or for that matter, Yankee ingenuity?

I'll tell you what, they've been replaced by kvetching.* Kvetching combines the most obnoxious features of whining and complaining: you whine vociferously and never shut up. Example:

W-a-a-ah, I want $1 gas! I'm entitled to it! I deserve it! This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me! My life has become unbearable, now that it costs $60 to fill my SUV. Who's to blame? Someone must be! Evil oil companies. I can't take it any more! Life in this country is no longer possible. Blame Bush! Blame anybody! Boohoohoo!

The whole country is kvetching about oil prices--the news media, Congress, even the President.

When not obsessed with gas prices, we kvetch continually about the war in Iraq:

People are getting killed over there! Over 3,000! No-one should ever be killed! War is bad! Iraq is not becoming a democracy fast enough to suit me! Boohoohoo! I want these Iraqis to settle down immediately or I'll cry! Blame Bush! Bush lied! Blame Cheney! Blame Big Oil!

The back-up kvetch, when things are (otherwise) going well:

Global warming, oy! Life as we know it is going to stop next Tuesday! I demand an end to global warming, everyone but me should stop using oil! Boohoohoo!

*Democrats are especially good at this.

(Recycled.)

Have trouble balancing your checkbook?

In these days of online banking, does anyone still bother?

A little old lady who was a regular library user, back in the old days when checkbooks were supposed to be balanced, told me her method:

She opened a bank account with Bank A and tried to keep track of her money.

When she had totally lost track of this account, she took the checkbook across the street to Bank B, and opened an account there.

When Bank B's statements became confusing, she repeated the procedure with Bank C.

Rinse and repeat. Fortunately, there were lots of banks in New Jersey, so she was never found out. I don't know if this would work in Resume Speed, Idaho. Perhaps all the bankers there talk to each other.

When she died, I believe her heirs had a hell of a time figuring things out. But it worked for her, anyway.

A fellow blogger gets rich

Fiar is loaded!
Hit him up for a loan now, while he's still humble. You know how arrogant these rich people get.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Does this look like Cleopatra to you?



Me either.

I saw a production of Antony and Cleopatra last week at Shakespeare and Company. It was excellent, except for Cleopatra. She was played by Tina Packer and--I have to be frank--she was way too old for the part, and too fat. She actually distracts from the play. When she falls to the floor in a moment of high drama, I worried that her fellow actors wouldn't have the strength to help her to her feet. This somewhat detracted from the illusion.

Even if she had been thin, Tina was not suited to playing Cleopatra the temptress. That train left the station a long time ago.

However, it is surprising how much of Shakespeare's play is left when Cleo is counted out. Nigel Ware was superb as Antony, and the rest of the cast were excellent.

I was reminded, as I am every time I see Shakespeare performed, what a genius he was.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Insomnia sucks

I was up until 4 last night and up again before 8. After tossing and turning for about an hour, I get up to make coffee. Grind the beans, boil the water, pour over grounds, wait for coffee to drip. But it didn't drip. Apparently, in my stupor, I'd ground the beans to something resembling a paste. Pick up coffeepot, manage to spill grounds and boiling water all over the floor, dump pot in sink, manage to pour boiling water/grounds combination on my hand, burning my right thumb from the base of the fingernail down to the wrist. Hurts. Hurts like hell. Run cold water over wound, smear on cortisone cream, suddenly remember I have a leftover prescription for vicodin. Take pill, lie down hoping to retreat into the arms of Morpheus. Toss and turn for three hours. Get up, make more coffee. Son enters room. I describe my mishap. Get a lecture on how I ingest too much caffeine. Manage not to strangle son. Drive son to work. And now I'm too tired to sleep.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The new Elizabethan Age

I see Cate Blanchett will be playing Elizabeth I again in the upcoming Elizabeth, The Golden Age. This comes on the heels of Helen Mirren's HBO series and Showtime's series, "The Tudors," which is actually about Henry VIII, Elizabeth's father.

I haven't seen either of those shows, but will probably do so eventually--though I've got to say that the guy playing Henry VIII looks a little too lean and dark for the part. (This review says the actor is better suited to play "a scheming courtier or pining poet than an extroverted royal peacock.") But I do like me some Tudors, especially Elizabeth.

I saw Blanchett's first Elizabeth film and liked it very much. It wasn't exactly historically accurate, but that doesn't bother me overmuch. Elizabeth was such a fascinating character that I always find it interesting to see how others view her. Though I hold no truck with those who sympathize with Mary, Queen of Scotts. Mary Stuart was a royal pain in the ass and Elizabeth allowed her to stick around for far too long. The new movie, I see, will touch on that. Here's the trailer:



And here, just for kicks, is a rundown of movies about Elizabeth with pictures.

As it happens, I'm enjoying an Elizabethan renaissance myself. I've been watching "Elizabeth R," the BBC series starring Glenda Jackson, who really embodies Elizabeth--in my humble opinion. I first watched the series a gazillion years ago when it first aired on "Masterpiece Theater." I loved it then and kind of wondered how it held up. It did. Jackson is superb, as is the supporting cast, the costumes are terrific and the makeup is great. Here are some photos of Jackson being made up as Elizabeth.

I'm also reading Paul Johnson's book, Elizabeth I: A Study in Power and Intellect, which was published in 1974 before, I think, Johnson became famous over here. It's not really an authoritative biography-Johnson skips around a lot, which can get kind of confusing--but I'm enjoying it. I like Johnson's brisk style. And I like that he quotes a lot from primary sources. He portrays Elizabeth as a conservative who, though desperate for cash, was reluctant to raise money through taxes.

It was not a method of raising money she exploited but rather, to her mind, a monarchical privilege which was to be used sparingly. Direct taxation cost her popularity, and employing it had therefore to be balanced against the necessity to furnish the Exchequer. She was as reluctant to raise money as to spend it. Whenever possible, she turned to other methods. ... In 1591 there was a more bizarre effort: negotiations with Edward Kelly, a medium ... [who] had been experimenting in the transmutation of base metal into gold ... ELizabeth was skepical of Kelly's powers, but determined, if they existed, that they should be used in the service of England ...

If sometimes, as Ralegh complained, she underfinanced her war policies, she maintained political solidarity and economic expansion by keeping the English the lowest-taxed nation in Europe, a fact to which Bacon paid tribute: 'He that shall look into other countries and consider the taxes, and tallages, and impositions, and assizes and the like that are everywhere in use, will find that the Englishman is most master of his own valuation and the least bitten in purse of any nation in Europe.'

But Elizabeth was no neocon; she didn't seek out war, but was forced into it by circumstances, as when she--after much prodding by her advisors--sent then-favorite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester to the low countries to defend Protestant interests. War could be very expensive.
Even by the somewhat bizarre standards of sixteenth-century warfare, Leicester's personal entourage gave his army a top-heavy appearance. We possess a list of over 1,100 persons forming what was called his 'train'. ... Moreover, Leicester himself was surrounded by a household a monarch might have envied: his personal suite comprised 99 gentlemen-officers, yeomen and their servants and over 70 lords, knights and gentlemen; he had a steward, 4 secretaries, 2 engineers, pages, grooms, trumpeters, footmen, chaplains, physicians and a whole company of actors. The vast quantities of baggage included no less than 44 beds for the kitchen staff alone.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why are the people of Bel Air, MD trying to kill me?

First some geezer pulls on to the right shoulder as I'm crossing the intersection--my light, needless to say, but I'm saying it--and proceeds to drift into my lane just as I got to the other side. Of course, he ignored the horn. He was only inches away when I swerved into the left lane, which was thankfully unoccupied 'cuz I checked. That's just the kind of person I am. I'm afraid my son made some rather rude gestures, but the geezer was oblivious. After all, if you can't see a midsize sedan, how can you possibly take note of a middle finger being waved inside said sedan?

About 30 seconds later, I turned onto a side street that separates two shopping centers when some crazed soccer mom ran through a stop sign in her single-minded frenzy to get from Target to the La-Z-Boy Furniture Showroom. This time she stopped, with only about a foot to spare.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Photoshop of Dorian Grey

Dorian eagerly rips the package from the messenger's hands, she'd been waiting for days to see the pictures from the Redbook photo shoot. This would mark the beginning of her comeback tour; she'd been languishing in semi-obscurity for the past 10 years since her marriage to Dale and the birth of her three children.

But her new CD, "Having It All," was scheduled for release in two weeks and she was ready to get back into the spotlight. The album told the bittersweet story of her current life. Once she'd had the world by the balls--she was beautiful, thin and talented--men wanted to bed her, women wanted to be her. Now, she was a little bit older and a little bit fatter but she had the love of a good man; three wonderful, smart and beautiful children; and her creative juices were flowing like never before. She was sure this latest venture really caught the current zeitgeist. She would become a symbol to women the world over, a sadder, but wiser gal who'd aged gracefully and was living life to the fullest--on her own terms. A MILF for the ages.

Still, she was a little nervous about the photos; it had been 10 years, after all. And even a macrobiotic diet, three hours of exercise a day and a fanatical sleep regimen couldn't totally make up for the passing of the years.

So what? I still look great. And celebrity photog Basil Hallward could make even that cow Madonna look young. Well, he couldn't disguise those cords in her neck, but hell, a woman of a certain age needs a little padding and Dorian had it. Then she remembered the sleeveless sundress that stylist Henry Wotton had chosen for the shoot. She'd been wary, but Hank kept telling her how fabulous it looked on her, how it hugged all her curves in the right places, how every woman in America over 40 35 would envy her shape. He talked her into it, now she was thinking she'd been a fool to listen to that woman-hating fag.

Dorian's hands shook as she struggled to open the package. She handed it to to her assistant, Maci. "You open it, I'm too nervous." Dorian shut her eyes. She heard the paper being ripped open, followed by a sharp intake of breath and then a great whoosh of air being expelled.

"What ... Oh My God!" Dorian stared at the photo, enraptured. "I look 10 years younger and 10 pounds thinner." Dorian puts on her reading glasses and scrutinizes the photo. She looks even better than when she first started out as the lead singer of the girl group, Girl Group. Then, she'd been the picture of virginal innocence. Now, she looks just as fresh but there's something in the eyes. A Mona Lisa vibe. She has depth. Depth and mystery.

"Dorian, it's fabulous," Maci said, turning to give her a hug. The phone rings, Basil's on the line.

"How's our cover girl this morning?"

"Basil, it's terrific, but I wonder ..."

"What, pet."

"I don't look nearly as young as this picture. I'll be on the Today Show tomorrow when the magazine hits the newsstands and everyone will see that I'm not as young--or thin--as I look here. I wish now I'd gotten that tummy tuck."

"Sweetie, no one will notice a thing. Hank's on his way with another outfit and the makeup and hair people on Today are real artists. Relax, it'll be fine."

"If only I didn't have to go through with all that. If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture's arms started to jiggle! For that—for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!"

"Chill out, pumpkin," Basil soothes. "That's crazy talk."

Dorian spends the next hour looking at the photo and sighing. She tried to call Dale--he and the kids were out at the ranch in Montana while she made the rounds for the next two weeks--but there was no answer. Then Hank turns up, with a fabulous dress in tow, and her spirits start to rise. The two of them spend the day trying on clothes and experimenting with hairstyles. Then Hank convinces her to send home her pilates instructor and hit the clubs instead.

"Hank, I can't. I've got a 4 am call tomorrow for the show. I'll need my sleep."

"Dorian, precious, the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Besides, it will help you relax."

Dorian stumbled into her hotel room at around two. She managed to get her clothes off, but she didn't bother washing her face or brushing her teeth. When the wakeup call came, Dorian groaned in pain. Jesus, what an idiot I am. I'll be lucky if I pull this one off. She took a quick shower and threw on a pair of sweats. Maci was waiting in the limo with her dress.

"Christ, I'll be lucky if I can zip that thing up," she said. "I absolutely stuffed myself with caviar--and you know how I retain water. Ah shit. Maybe the coke speeded up my metabolism. Those makeup people are really gonna earn their keep."

She lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, blowing the smoke out her nose. I can't believe I started smoking again. Now I'll have a whiskey voice to go with my whiskey face. She took another drag. God, that felt good. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?

At the studio, the makeup girl spends a scant 10 minutes on her face and the hairstylist even less. And when she slips on the dress that had fit her like a glove the day before, it's loose and the wardrobe girl has to pin it at the waist. What the hell was going on? Dorian turns to look in the mirror.

"Jesus!"

It was the girl in the cover photo. The slim, perfectly coiffed girl of 21 with the knowing look. Her hair shines, her skin is perfection. And that body. Her breasts had risen two inches. And her ass! Her ass had never looked so good.

The interview went great. Meredith Vieira threw her nothing but softballs. OK, it was weird the way Al Roker kept coming over to her and massaging her shoulders, but all-in-all it went well. When they got back to the hotel, Dorian runs to her bedroom and picks up the package from Redbook. There she sees last night's debauchery. Her skin is blotchy and the bags under her eyes are like steamer trunks. Somehow her hair manages to look both greasy and dull. But the expression on her face is what really gets her. The Mona Lisa smile is replaced by a disturbing leer that makes her look both horny and desperate.

What a nightmare! Dorian shoves the photo into her private makeup case and resolves to hit the gym. But Hank stops by and the two of them hit the streets.

It goes on like that for two weeks. Then Dorian spends a week with Dale and the kids at the ranch she goes on tour. She's dismissed Maci and hired Hank to take her place. On nights when the two of them aren't out in the bars, Dorian's taken to binge eating. She generally orders a pizza or two from Domino's and washes it down with a half-gallon of Haagen Dasz triple chocolate ice cream. She never gains a pound. But her picture does. It's also grown grey roots, wrinkles and adult acne. And ... are there curly hairs erupting from her now not-quite-double chin?

The tour ends with Dorian on top of the world. She's been asked to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the oldest woman ever to appear on that page. She's exchanged her music producer husband for a younger model, a Hollywood director of only 28 with a string of hits to his name. She's nominated for a grammy and performs a morning concert at Rockefeller Center at another Today Show appearance.

Man, that Al Roker is creepy, but it's all good. Until suddenly it's not. Things start falling apart. Celebrity photog Basil Hallward disappears. Dorian drops Rufus Giancarlo after his film, The Maid of Orleans, starring the 47-year-old Dorian as the teenage martyr, flopped at the box office. Then tabloids get wind of her rowdy behavior. Dorian becomes a frequent fixture on Page Six, until the following blind item appears there:

WHICH recently separated celeb has a new habit to go along with her new friends? The cutie is spending way too much time in the bathroom of the many clubs she visits, hoovering down cocaine that her pals supply her with . . .

Dorian checks into rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction and food addiction. Upon her release she vows to turn her life around and retreats to her New Mexico ranch to work on a new CD. The work is hard. Hank, who follows her everywhere, doesn't help. He insists on going out every night to cowboy bars. The last straw occurs one morning after they wake up in bed with two hands from the Imus ranch. Dorian kicks Hank to the curb. But still the music doesn't come.

Then it happens.

Switching on the TV one morning to Access Hollywood, Dorian discovers that her estranged daughter Jemima has written a tell-all book about her.

"This has got to stop," she screams and runs up the stairs. Dorian pulls out the Redbook cover photo and tries to rip it to shreds. Her assortment of hangers on hear a huge crash and run upstairs to investigate. Lying on the floor is a morbidly obese woman clutching a photograph of Dorian, the picture from the Redbook cover restored to its former beauty. The woman, a frightful old hag wearing clothes that seemed to have been shredded, has a scissors stuck in her heart. It isn't until her stylist notices that the tattered top the loathsome old hag is wearing is, in fact, the Prada sweater Dorian had put on that morning that they realize who the dead woman is.