Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blago--the gift that keeps on giving

There's a character in a novel by Evelyn Waugh--in might be Decline and Fall--who "blots his copybook(an understated way of saying disgraces himself)." Because he went to the right school his associates decide to let him off easy by putting him in a room with a bottle of whiskey and a pistol, trusting he will "do the right thing (Off himself)."

They go back a few hours later and find him sitting there, having drunk the whiskey but still alive. So they concede defeat and get him another job.

And so it is with Blago. The Illinois legislature, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and the news media all thought they could embarrass him into doing the right thing and taking one for the team. Not a chance!

And so he made a brilliant move, appointing a Senator to replace Barack Obama, as he is constitutionally empowered to do. Not just any one, but a black man. And at the press conference announcing the appointment, another black man who just happened to be there got up and helpfully pointed out that he would be the only black person in the Senate, and that Harry Reid and the rest of the bunch had better seat him, or else.

Now Blago's political enemies--all Democrats--are gnashing their teeth in impotent rage while the Republicans are feeling smug as all get out.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where's the money, Madoff?

Stanley Bing wants to know.

And, to veer from the point, what a name for a gonif--made off with money, did he? Dickens couldn't come up with a better one.

My idea is that the guy had to be a gambler. Trollope's books are full of young, rich aristocrats who have gambled away towering fortunes. There's not enough money printed by all the world's government printing presses for a compulsive gambler.

You can tell a compulsive gambler because all their relatives are going around with their pockets turned inside out, having given their little all so that poor Bernie doesn't get two broken legs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Label your photographs

 


If you don't, you will find pictures like the one above, of people who are probably related to me, but as to who they are, I haven't a clue!

Write the name and date in pencil, lightly on the back.

Future generations will thank you.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I hope Santa is good to all my readers

 
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Ohio University

This image, of the campus of my Alma Mater, makes me sentimental.

Oh to be young, free, and in the right place.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What's not to like about Caroline Kennedy?

She's perfect for the Senate seat. She looks like she's straight out of central casting. First--the debutante slouch, taught only in the most expensive private schools in the nation; then there's the slight equine resemblance, emphasized when she tosses her mane artlessly away from her face; and the aforementioned straight I-can't do-anything-with-it hair, which takes endless time and money to achieve; and lastly, the air of entitlement, of deserving to be a Senator by acclamation, without going through the dreary business of running for office.

Next at bat: Chelsea Clinton.

What's with this "elect" stuff?

I don't ever remember having heard of the position of "president-elect." Is it sort of like being the Prince of Wales? How much does the job pay, and is everyone eligible?

I am reminded of these words from the Mikado:

Emperor: I'm the emperor of Japan!

Katisha: And I'm his daughter-in-law elect!"

Just saying.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Me as a skinny-legged teenager

 
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Equal time for Chanukah



Menorah lighting tonight.

Chanukah was taken with calm, not to say torpor, in my family. Somebody lighted candles (that would be bubbe), and if they remembered, or I nagged, they came up with a cash bribe. Not Christmas, by a long shot. We didn't even have Chanukah gift wrap paper, let alone gifts to wrap. And as for household decoration, forget about it!

Meanwhile, I was wild with excitement as the neighbors put up lights and Christmas trees. Mother issued a firm nolo prosequi on this stuff, but once or twice Santa Claus delivered a doll, which he placed at the foot of my bed. We didn't have a chimney, and if we did have one, and Santa got cinders on the oriental rug, mother would have killed him.

Tonight, I lit the candles when the sun had gone down. It was the shortest day of the year, gloomy and raw, and I was glad to have the cheerful sight of the candles burning in my kitchen. When my grandson was little, he had his own menorah, his mother had hers, and I had mine. We put them all in the living room, near the window, and they were a pretty sight, especially on the eighth night. Surprising how a few candles light up the place.



For the record, these candles were blue and white, not multicolored.

Cute little purple tree

 
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy lighted fake Christmas tree

 
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Merry poinsettia

 
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Politics Chicago style

There's lots of innocent merriment coming out of Chicago these days. It turns out many Chicago politicians are crooks, selling political office, appointing wives of contributors to cushy jobs, and cursing over the telephone, among other crimes and misdemeanors.

I don't really mind the sleaziness on display here. What sticks in my craw is the sanctimoniousness of it all. These crooks--sorry, elected officials--profess just to want to work tirelessly for the people of Illinois, particularly the poor and underprivileged. It's all for the poor--and the children, of course. The combination of high-mindedness and criminality really sickens me.

I am reminded of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, a Harlem politician, minister and crook. He was unabashedly in it for the money and the wine, women and song. He didn't assume an air of piety while having his hand in your pocket. He was a scoundrel, he knew it, and everybody else knew it, including the voters who kept returning him to office. As politicians go, he was refreshing. His polar opposite would be Eliot Spitzer, who gave holier-than-thouness a bad name.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trivial thoughts

About this time of year, I start to meditate on the Meaning of Life. My conclusions? Your life can change overnight.

Once upon a time I thought my life would continue along its pleasant but uneventful course. Mr Charm and I would attend concerts and visit with friends and I would work in the library. All that came to a sudden end, without notice. The friend I had the most fun with died and I was not ready to lose her. I was supposed to go to Atlantic City with some friends who were great fun to be with, but he got sick and couldn't go, and suddenly, he too was dead.

Even the college I enjoyed attending so much had morphed into a huge university. I went back to visit and found the place unrecognizable--they had moved the river which was a prominent feature of the place.

And I found myself in Delaware, where the only person I knew was the real estate lady who sold us our house.

On a lighter note; I have had so much vexation with Verizon, who unexplicably keep misplacing my payments, not to mention billing me $45 for viewing a World Wrestling Federation event. Now do I seem like a person who would watch a WWF competition? After hours of voice mail, I spoke to several rude individuals about all of this. All of them had ingested their daily I Don't Care Pill that day. I was so upset that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about Verizon.

Today, I decided to give it one last try. After being re-directed to the wrong person no less than three times, I finally spoke to someone who understood what had happened and was in a position to do something about it. Hallelujah!

I am one of Macy's best customers: They send me so many coupons that it doesn't pay for me to shop anywhere else. After I apply my $25 off coupon, my $50 off coupon, my just for today coupon which gives me 20 percent off on every purchase, and a voucher they sent me which is just like cash, I pay a little less than I would at K-Mart, and I like Macy's better.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Non-committal all-purpose holiday greeting du jour

 


Above is my non-committal, non-denominational holiday greeting to every one. All you Christians, Jews, and Muslims can accept it as my expression of good will to all men, women, and people. Even atheists can get behind the sentiment expressed here. I hope.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ugly

but expensive.



I apologize for prematurely announcing the most useless Christmas gift of 2008. The above beats the fish training kit hollow.

When I first saw this advertised on the New York Times website, I thought it was a representation of four breasts, two with eyes. How wrong I was. It is a hand cooler. Whether it cools your hands or some beverage within, it is world-class ugly.

I am officially speechless. If anyone can find an uglier or more useless gift, please e-mail me the particulars. This one will be hard to beat, though.

Bigot

From the December 2008 edition of Hadassah magazine, a letter to the editor:

You asked your respondents to focus on "issues of concern to Jewish voters." Clearly the most important issue is Judaism itself and our freedom to practice it....I think [Sarah Palin's] candidacy changes the parameters of the debate.

Her public statements and the few glimpses of her that we have been allowed indicate that hers ls a Christ-centered worldview and that she believes in the primacy of that religion above all others. (Note: Is there anyone who does not believe in the primacy of their own religion?)

If there is any more frightening issue of concern to Jewish voters (Note: I can think of several others, but that's just me )than the possible (Note: But not probable in a million years) erosion of the free exercise of religion, I cannot imagine what it might be.


Be alert, Jewish readers! The Christians are apt to burn down your synagogues and Jewish Community Centers and invade Chabad houses, torturing and killing their innocent inhabitants--oh, wait! Those aren't Christians, they're Muslims!

If past performance can predict future actions, I would say that Jews in this country have little to fear from Christians, even evangelical Christians. But this bugaboo is raised every time a Republican professes a belief in evangelical Christianity. Barack Obama, in contrast, could attend a racist church whose pastor espouses the Palestinian cause for 20 years without incurring criticism.

Perhaps the president-elect slept through the reverend's more fiery sermons. I, at any rate, am inclined to give Obama the benefit of the doubt until he actually does something which adversely affects the Jews of this or any other country.

Hadassah, by the way, is a Zionist organization. You might assume that its readers are more concerned with the perils facing an embattled Israel than with the imaginary and highly unlikely persecution of American Jews.

Monday, December 08, 2008

This year's most useless Christmas present

 
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Train your fish?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Miscellaneous

I haven't gotten any comments lately, which worried me--but then I remembered that I hadn't posted anything in ages, so what's to comment on?

So here I am, with what a lady I once worked with called "nits and lice," miscellaneous trivia dredged up from the hodgepodge in my mind.

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving? Mine was very nice, thank you. My daughter and her husband love to take over the kitchen, so I let them. My kitchen's too small for more than one person, anyway. I made the stuffing and peeled the potatoes and disappeared. My daughter and aforementioned husband love to go to the Acme every day, so they do. They even checked on Wednesday night to make sure the Acme would be open Thanksgiving Day. (It was.)

Their life is a whirlwind of purposeful activity. This daughter is the mother of a 7-year-old who she is convinced will perish if he does not get broccoli and green beans every single day. We did have an very enjoyable time. My older daughter and her son were able to come for the holiday so we were all together, which doesn't happen often enough.

They came at dinnertime the Monday before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately there was a power outage at thee o'clock Monday afternoon so I was unable to cook anything. We all went out to dinner and then they very sensibly went to the Holiday Inn for the night.

I've been reading a book called "The Legal Limit" by Martin Clark. It's very good, particularly the small-town Virginia setting. But it could have been better if an editor like Maxwell Perkins had been on the job. I guess they don't edit anything these days, or maybe the authors are paid by the word, because this book would have been better if it had been shorter. It tells the story of two brothers, one of whom peaked as a high school football hero and has gone downhill ever since, and the other a striver who pulls himself up by his bootstraps to become the county prosecutor in his home town. The action takes place over a period of twenty years, with the younger brother--the prosecutor--as the hero.

The book covers his life from his early twenties to his forties. The parts dealing with life as a small town prosecutor and his relations with his friends and neighbors, and particularly his brother, are well handled. His courtship and subsequent marriage, not so much.

His wife sounds too good to be true: I am sure it's not outside the realm of possibility that there are women who are tall, beautiful, intelligent, honest and artistic geniuses, but it's not plausible or believable within the covers of a novel. Also--and this is a minor quibble--scenes of passionate abandon are much more fun to experience than to read about. I could have done with a little less of his gay best friend's problems as well. Still, I enjoyed the book, most of the characters are extremely well done, and I look forward to reading Clark's other books.