Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rubber Ducky, You're The One

I Am Ernie

Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times.

You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained

You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun.

How you life your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!

It's the best I can manage today, thank you very much.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My friend, Joe O'Rourke

Just got a call from my brother with news I didn't want to hear. Joe O'Rourke died. Joe was an ex-Jesuit, drummed out of the priesthood in 1974 after baptizing a baby whose mother believed in planned parenthood and a woman's right to choose. Joe was part of the DC 9, who broke into Dow Chemical's Washington DC office and destroyed files in 1969. Dow was the main manufacturer of Napalm, and this was during the Viet Nam War. It's funny how the Church supported Joe and his fellow protesters over Viet Nam, but not for a baptism.

But this is what I remember: I met Joe in about 1991, and we became friends because Joe befriended everyone. He was big - not so much physically big, although he was tall - but I mean his personality took up space. He was loud. He loved to listen, and to challenge ideas, and he loved smart women. He was messy, and passionate, and funny, and when he spoke, his language was so circular that people got confused and could not follow him to his point - which he always made, eventually, after tangent, after tangent, after tangent. For reasons I don't understand, I could follow him. I enjoyed his enjoyment of life.

We used to go to dinner a lot, and would cover all kinds of topics - especially Judaism as I understood it, and Catholocism and catholocism - and AA, and doing well by doing good, and the spiritual principle that "you go first" making amends always, always, always. He adored his son. He adored his wife, who became his ex-wife - I can't imagine living with Joe for more than a minute, it would drive a person crazy, I am sure. He was an amazing cook. He would gather groups together to hit ten restaurants in Chicago on a given night to only have creme brulee at each. He spilled food everywhere. He made me laugh. He made me think. He was a friend.

Not everyone loved him. He could charm the birds out of the trees, he had that Irish gift of gab but his follow-through was, well, a mess. He constantly disappointed people, and he knew it. I told him once that my idea of hell was the two of us, drunk, locked in a room together. He twinkled, and said "We'd have about 30 seconds of a great time, first, though." His soul was kind, and he tried, he really did. But people left him, fell away from him, that was the fact of his life.

In April of 2004, he had a series of massive heart attacks, and he was never the same after that. He nearly died at that time - in fact, he was revived several times - and when I saw him a few times after I moved out to Los Angeles, I was shocked at how this once vibrant personality had become so diminished. He became old, frail, and slow. His voice became weak. It was painful to see. And in my last trip home, I never made the time to see him. I last spoke to him by phone about nine months ago. I'd moved away, like everyone else, and then today my brother called with the news. The funeral was apparently yesterday. My brother just found out about it today. Last week, I found myself thinking about him a lot - and yesterday, I asked FranIAm if she knew Joe - he was originally from Hudson, New York - she did not. Part of me thought he'd always be around, and part of me knew he was gone. He was gone long before he died, I fear.

Joe, I will miss you for a long, long time.

Thought for today

Chronic homeless population down 15%, US says. Tracked over a 12 month period, a Federal Report claims a 15% reduction in chronic homelessness.

McCain says the surge is working.

I wonder if there's a connection here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I have lost my virginity

A 5.8, near Chino Hills is the biggest quake I have felt since moving here. It felt like it went on for two minutes - was probably only 30, 40 seconds - big, rolling waves - a bit scary since our office is quite a distance from Chino Hills - am a little bit "car-sick" from it. Scary. While I realize it isn't a huge quake, 5.8 is big. I have lost my earthquake virginity.

Wanted: Minister for UFOs

Them turrists use flyin saucers as weapons.

Did Rupert Murdoch buy the New York Times when I wasn't looking?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Serious Concerns About Campaign Ethics

While I do respect Dr. Zaius for his service to our nation, I question his attempts to influence potential cabinet positions. I had previously offered someone the position of Minister of UFOs position. I was under the impression that The Unconventional Conventionist had accepted the position, but apparently even my offer to double his salary from nothing to twice that, PLUS tossing in Minister of Appetizers and Happy Hour has not solidified his loyalties. I am, to say the least, disappointed.

And I am speaking off the cuff, because my speechwriter, Ingrid has been busy working on a decent stump speech for me. Meanwhile, I had to say something about how disgusting the sub-human Bill Kristol is.

As for this campaign, we are as much about happy underpants, chocolate, puppies, moonbeams, kittens and rainbows as the next person. Geezeloufuckingwheeze.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to Marcel Duchamp.

The Language of Neo-Conservatives Unmasked

This morning's Op-Ed piece by William Kristol is the most direct command a neo-conservative can use. His title: Be Afraid. Please. Kristol's premise is that electing Obama with a Democratic-controlled Congress will give Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid free reign. The direct quote is: "But if the voters elect Obama as president, they’ll be putting Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in untrammeled control of our future."

Frankly, after the last eight years of Bush, Cheney, and yes, Bill Kristol, I would be thrilled to let Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have untrammeled control of our future. The Neo-Cons have had untrammeled control and have destroyed the US economy, led us into an unnecessary and elective war, trashed the environmnet, ignored the crumbling infrastructure in the USA, and generally made the USA the laughing-stock of the world. Do I think Obama walks on water? Absolutely not. He's flawed, deeply so. Pelosi has been quite disappointing. But I would much rather have their flaws in charge than another four years of the Bush/Cheney administration.

Kristol writes about the November election: "Maybe they’ll decide it’s more important to have John McCain as commander in chief than Barack Obama as orator in chief." His focus, of course, is war. War. Be afraid. He wants voters to be afraid, because fear keeps people paralyzed. How can you make change, when paralyzed by fear? McCain is a known quantity - Bush Lite - while Obama is an unknown, a (deep disdain in the tone, per neo-con style) "lib."

Obama is not a liberal. He's a centerist, always has been, much like Bill Clinton was, much like Hillary Clinton is. We've become unable to electe a true liberal in this nation. If we were, we'd have Dennis Kucinich as the presumptive Democratic nominee. But Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee, and he gets my vote for these three words: The Supreme Court. More, really. He gets my vote because I will not support a man who has said that we need to stay in Iraq for 100 years.

And I will not allow the Neo-Cons to continue to bully me into a place of fearful submission. Bill Kristol wants you to be afraid. It's time to tell him that HE should be afraid, because we are angry, fed up, done. Pack it up, Bill.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Going out to play

Sunscreen? Check!
Big floppy hat? Check!
Flip flops? Check!
Swim suit? Check!
Food for pot luck? eeek,have to make a stop.

See ya, bye. Have a fun day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Wordzzl Challenge

This should be fun. Raven's Ten Word Challenge is a weekly challenge to test your creative writing chops. It's just a fun little exercise designed to make you be inventive.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge Is: follow-up, buffalo wings, silversmith, furniture, as the crow flies, little red roadster, photograph, pencil pusher, argument, streaking

And here is my entry:

"For the sake of argument, could we just assume that the furniture won't fit in the car?" Jerry kicked the side of his little red roadster and frowned. "Besides, I'm hungry and want some kick-ass buffalo wings."

Mary sighed. She held onto the photograph of the sofa. She thought to herself, "Why the fuck did I marry this pencil pusher?" She smiled sweetly and said, "Jerry, I thought you did the follow-up to find out the size of the sofa?"

He shook his head, still pouting. He was sweating, beads of perspiration streaking through his spray-on tan. Mary patted Jerry's arm. She walked over to the silversmith and said, "Where can we go for some really spicy wings?"

The man scratched his head, and then pointed south. "About 39 miles as the crow flies my sister's got a chicken shack. It'll take about an hour on these roads, though."

And for the Mini Challenge: Ireland, mashed potatoes, book worm, fog horn, T.S. Eliot

Martha sat in her overly bright kitchen, listening to the mournful fog horn and playing with her mashed potatoes. She hated T.S. Eliot a lot, quite frankly, and could not understand why he was such a hero in Ireland, or anywhere else, for that matter. But Martha was as far from a book worm as you could be - her favorite book was the Yellow Pages.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

photo source: DZN Press

My gramma Diva Jood is running for Prezilnut and her major ape-onet even gave her free publicity so gramma wantsta no if Dr. Zaius is wanting a debate? I don't no what is a debate but I like cookies and strawberries. Mya strawberries, peese? And but gramma Diva is working hard for peeples who don want go to war an sez: It should be MANDATORY that all sons and DAUGHTERS of our REPUBLICAN, CHICKEN-HAWK, NEO-CONSERVATIVE, WAR-MONGERING elected officials be drafted and go serve in the military and fight and blow things up. You know, the ones who really WANT war, not us.

mya more strawberries, peese?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Yesterday, I received a call at work from a man who identified himself as the son of one of my clients. He had a cheerful voice, which, as the conversation evolved, I realized was coming from shock and exhaustion.

He called to tell me his mother died at 3 AM, quite unexpectedly. That I needed to cancel the trip I'd prepared for her. He said she was all packed and ready to go. But she died. He said she'd been out walking the dog, that she thought she had a kidney stone - called the paramedics, went to the hospital, was rushed into surgery, and died from a ruptured artery in her stomach. And then he apologized to me for the inconvenience.

Yes, HE apologized to me, which further flummoxed me - I told him no, no, please, and I was so sorry for his loss - this woman was absolutely a delight. Just as lovely a person as I have ever worked with - full of vigor, and good humor. I am quite certain that her son was just sleep deprived and in shock at the loss to sound so cheerful - he said as much (cheerfully). He talked about his own son, who was to go on the elaborate trip with Grandma. It was just so sad. So sad.

No insurance. And everything (except the business class air) is in penalty. So I am scrambling to get the steepest penalties waived, AND we have to protect our commission - yes, it sounds harsh, but that's policy here. Work was done, and must be covered. My suppliers have been absolutely wonderful - they've all been quite quick in their response; one voluntarily waived the steep penalty (50%) for a more humane and reasonable flat fee. And everyone has the same reaction. Shock.

I think the real reason I'm writing this is because she absolutely lived her life full tilt. I would guess that she had absolutely no regrets (other than leaving her grandson without his Grand Europe trip). Every email, every conversation I ever had with her over the last four years was her just being full of life. Her example was just that: we don't know how much time we have, so we need to enjoy it fully. I will miss her large-print emails, and her wonderful demeanor.

What a loss.

Ode to Randal, Campaign Manager

Randal Graves, campaign manager extraordinaire, has come up with the platform to end all platforms for our assault on the White House campaign for the Presidency. My running-mate, The lovely Nunly is nothing but spiritual and holy, so we'll get the religious fanatics which will help keep us on a higher plane plain level. She's busy working to get media attention for us.

Here is a partial list of Cabinet and Supreme Court Positions:

Spartacus is FDA, DEA and FTD (someone needs to be in charge of flowers.)

Drdon is National Science Advisor and head of Reality TeeVee - "Republican Gladiators" will throw neo-con body parts to the wolves.

Dcup is head of the FCC, and she will wear Opera Gloves.

Utah Savage is Big Chief Justice of the Supreme Court,

Liberality will head up the EPA.

Mathman has taken Homeland Security, Education, Treasury, Baseball Commissioner and Football Commissioner, making him more powerful than god.

Fran is another Supreme Court Justice. She gets theme music, "Here come da judge, here come da judge."

DK Raed is so good at procuring, and expendables, that I want her to be Attorney General. It makes no sense, but I like the discord.

Susan will be Secretary of State, and promises to not get those scary devil eyes that Condi Rice has.

Cart is Australian, so he wants to have foreign affairs. Whatever.

Border Explorer has become our Press Secretary. Not that there is any serious pressing to be done, but still.

Okjimm is in charge of refreshments and good ideas.

JUST ADDED: Bradda will be Secretary of The Fence. This is such an important person, because he doesn't want to study war no more and he will sing "Don't Fence Me In" three times a day.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Agi has signed on to be minister of political affairs consultant/propaganda (photoshop). He should start with my fixation on firemen.

But Randal has come up with a 12 point platform. It was supposed to be 11 but he said that's a scary number.
1. Universal Health Care
2. Free donuts and beer for everyone (root or grainy)(the beer, not the donuts)
3. Protecting cemetaries or some other nonsense from thieves.
4. Slashing the Pentagon's budget so we can do something about hot globes.
5. Mandatory military service for pro-war citizens and their offspring, but not for the rest of us pinko liberal commie scum
6. Doing away with NCLB, which is really only there to waste paper for test taking, so it helps the hot globe thingie as well.
7. Fixing our infrastructure (roads, dams, levees, bridges, things that fall down in the night due to high winds, earthquakes, and generally shoddy workmanship)
8. Warrantless wiretapping will be limited to Republican targets.
9. No more sports championships for the cities of Noo Yawk and Bah-ston for awhile. And we've added Los Angeles to that list as well.
10. Cleaning out the Bush and Reagan and Ford Supremes from the Court. (Both Bush 1 and 2)
11. Hockey? WTF? HOCKEY? Oh, that falls under the Reality TeeVee arena, and as long as I can watch the Chicago Cubs at will, I'm jiggy with it.
12. People will dress fabulously as soon as we get rid of those pesky SUVs and high gas prices and switch to Solar Powered vehicles.

Did I miss anything? Leave anyone out? Remember, Mary Ellen and I are taking on Dr. Zaius as well as McBush McCain and Obama.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sparks a-flyin!

So, yesterday I was bored out of my mind sitting calmly at my soon-to-be-ex-desk at work, and suddenly, I hear a series of small explosions. The other four women in the office screamed, and jumped up from their desks. Sparks had burst out of the ceiling - real sparks, with explosive noises - and then the really nasty smell of electrical burning.

We are unable to call 911 from our desk phones. We have one phone, in the back, that we can use to call 911 but nobody knew this until after we'd called from the nail salon next to us.

And then they arrived. The Firemen. And one firewoman, but she was not as cute as those FireMEN. Manly men. Men who climb ladders all the way to the top rung that the rest of us mere mortals are told to avoid. Men with tanks of oxygen strapped to their backs.

They poked around in the ceiling; they climbed on the roof; they sniffed, and pointed heat guns and did all the things firemen do, but could not pin a difinitive source on the sparks. We were given three things to get the management to check - and god love Management, they came out yesterday pretty promptly - and found that the old air conditioner on the roof had leaked so badly, the insulation got wet, fell, and landed on the electrical wiring. Voila: sparks.

And FIREMEN. Shiny! They are so much better looking than Policemen, and I don't know why that is.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Time for some Campaignin'

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Diva Jood for President

It is official. I am announcing my candidacy for President, and my fabulous running mate is Sister Mary Ellen. We cover THREE minorities with this ticket: two women, one Jew (me) and a Catholic (Mary Ellen). The campaign is being managed by the charming and irrepressible Randal Graves, who is also responsible for our platform. Part of the platform is that everyone has to dress fabulously, or I won't play nicely. And the adorable okjimm is in charge of refreshments. He's promised root beer for me, real beer for the rest of you, and donuts for everybody.

I am accepting applications for all the cabinet positions - and if there is a new position you'd like to create, I will consider it. I do want somebody in charge of Reality TeeVee, because I think there should be a show where body parts of Republicans are fed to wolves. And I am also accepting applications for the Supreme Court, because four of those Justices have got to be removed. I mean, Antonin Scalia? Bad hair, bad dresser, bad attitude. Justice Alito? He's younger than I am, so he REALLY has to go. Chief Justice Roberts? I just don't like his name - I mean, a guy with two first names should not be Chief Justice.

I have no pledged delegates, no super delegates, but I do have a lovely tiara and opera gloves.

UPDATE: okjimm has suggested the following for the platform:

I would be of the humble and modest opinion that it would be MANDATORY that all sons and DAUGHTERS of our elected officials…. Congressmen, Judiciary, shit-the whole kit-kaboodle of them—- be automatically inducted into our Armed Services. If the parents are so eager to serve THEIR country…. so should the offspring! And why would such PARENTS object! The military offers excellent benefits and education opportunities! And a damn good chance to be killed! And kill others! Which I have ammended to state that would be MANDATORY that all sons and DAUGHTERS of our REPUBLICAN, CHICKEN-HAWK, NEO-CONSERVATIVE, WAR-MONGERING elected officials…. You know, the ones who really WANT war, not us.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Half and Half is Good

Our life is half natural and half technological. Half-and-half is good. You cannot deny that high-tech is progress. We need it for jobs. Yet if you make only high-tech, you make war. So we must have a strong human element to keep modesty and natural life.
Nam June Paik

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Sounds -- mid-day update

I need some wide open spaces. Instead, I'm going to work.

Snippets from phone calls:

Diva Jood: Thank you for calling ..... Travel. This is Diva.

Caller: Hello? Hello? Are you a person?

Diva: Yes.

Caller: I thought you were a menu.


Diva Jood: Thank you for calling ..... Travel. This is Diva.

Caller: Is this .......... Cruises?

Diva: No, this is a travel agency.

Caller: My travel agent is closed today, I need you to answer questions so I can then book with my travel agent.

Diva: I'm a travel agent. Not the cruise line.

Caller: But my agent is closed today.


Diva Jood: Thank you for calling ..... Travel. This is Diva.

Caller: That is the rudest way anyone has ever answered the phone. I want to speak to the owner.

Diva: (raising eyebrows) Ma'am, the owner is not in today.

Caller: You are so rude, you have NO customer service skills. Just who are you? You should be ashamed of yourself. How dare you.

Diva: Thank you for your call.


Diva Jood: Thank you for calling ..... Travel. This is Diva.

Caller: Is this .......... Cruises?

Diva: No, this is .... Travel.

Caller: But I'm on their website.

Diva: Actually, you are on our website, it says "powered by ..... Travel."

Caller: But I put ...... Cruises in the Googles.

Diva: This is a travel agency.

Caller: I've already booked my cruise.

Diva: You need to speak to your agent, or to the cruise line.

Caller: But this IS the cruise line.

Diva: Sadly, no.


Diva Jood: Thank you for calling ..... Travel. This is Diva.

Caller: Oh, (giggles) I found you on the Internets.

Diva: How may I help you?

Caller: I want to go somewhere.

Diva: Where would you like to go?

Caller: On Vacation.

Diva: Where would you like to go on vacation?

Caller: Ummmm.

Diva: When would you like to travel?

Caller: I don't know. When's a good time to go somewhere?


The joys of working Saturday.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Grandbaby Blogging - and 20 Years of Sobriety

I'm in celebration mode today. Today marks 20 years clean and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous which, frankly, is a complete surprise. For those of you who are not alcohlic drinkers, you don't have any idea what it is like to be unable to function without alcohol or drugs - that, combined with a clear understanding that to continue drinking and using the way I did, I would surly die. And twenty years ago, death looked quite attractive to me. I could not go one step further.

I had long avoided AA, because I believed it was a cult for White, Male, Christian, Low-Bottom Homeless drunks. Besides, I'm Jewish; we're not. I knew I had to drink because it was the only way to turn off the voices in my head. I had to drink because you pissed me off. I had to drink because it was Tuesday. I had to drink to stay numb. Invisible. I was half a mother; I was half a wife; I was less than half a person.

Had I continued drinking, I would have found a way to committ suicide. I had reached the stage of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization that only an alcohlic at bottom can understand. I found AA by accident; my eskimo is no longer sober.

The last 20 years have not been easy. I've been divorced for 17 years; I filed bankruptcy five years ago and am actually teetering on the edge again. I am leaving a steady paycheck for the unstable world of commission only at a time when our economy is in the toilet but it is something I just know is the right choice. I am terrified about it, as it is an unknown, but sober, I know that I will be alright. I've never been successful financially, so I have no safety net, and still I have faith that this will work. I have a god of my understanding which is personal, and so I don't talk much about it.

But now, with 20 years of Recovery, I am a grandmother to the most amazing child I've ever known. And I am not half a grandmother. I am happily and usefully whole, and a positive influence on Beanie, even though she's in Chicago and I'm in Los Angeles. She calls me. She talks about me all the time. When I am with her, I am 100% whole and with her. I am relied upon, and this makes me so grateful I cannot tell you. Beanie is the most tangible gift I've received in sobriety. I have a rich, full life, with friends and family - and this perfect grandchild who is truly the love of my life.

For all this, and more, I am very grateful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I can't be in Postville, but I can still help.

Border Explorer has been covering the largest ICE Raid in US History, the May 12 raid that apprehended 400 meat-packers in Postville, IA. The resulting raid has been a horrific bastardization of our rights, where Habeus Corpus has been turned on its ear. Border Explorer's coverage of this situation has been incredible, and you should all go read it.

Today, she writes:
The Postville Community Response Committee is asking those who are concerned about the situation to send a $20 donation. This will allow the Food Pantry to purchase approximately the following items for a family of four: rice, beans, a can each of fruit and vegetables, a box of cereal, eggs, and a $5 coupon for milk.

Please send your donation to the Postville Food Pantry c/o Pastor Steve Brackett, St Paul Lutheran Church, 116 Military, Postville IA 52162
My check is in the mail, and since I can't be in Postville, I can still help - this is how.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Child by Nilaja Sun

Mathman's comment on my previous post got me thinking (yes, it happens from time to time) about one of the many disasterous programs of the Bush Administration, the No Child Left Behind Act that places testing above educating. The Act also requires that the schools distribute the name, home phone number and address of every student enrolled to military recruiters, unless the student (or the student's parent) specifically opts out. Train the kids to take tests, and then send them out to fuel the war machine.

In April, I saw Nilaja Sun perform her one-woman show, No Child, at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. Sun's play takes place in the fictional Malcom X High School in the Bronx. It is based upon her experience as a "teaching artist", invited into the school to teach drama workshops. Make no mistake, these are not the kids from Fame. These kids can barely sit still, with learning disorders, and severe emotional and psychological challenges. This is the world that the very young Ms. Sun enters, to teach “Our Country’s Good,” Timberlake Wertenbaker’s 1988 play about a group of convicts putting on a Restoration comedy in an Australian penal colony. Her goal is for the students to learn, and perform, this play.

Today's teachers have it rough. I'm serious, this is not me being sarcastic. Teachers are underpaid, often in overcrowded classrooms, and thanks to Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, all they really get to do is prepare children for perpetual testing. Teachers are not able to find creative ways to teach, to open young minds to ideas. And those teachers who ARE able to do so are likely in affluent suburban schools with a highly priviledged set of students.

Our system has failed, and we are squandering our greatest resources: young minds.

When I went to see the play, I had no idea what it was about - it was simply part of my subscription series. When I left, I was stunned. Ms. Sun is an incredible actor. She played every character in the show - she was the only person on stage, yet it felt like a full cast, that is how good she was - and her energy was magnificent. Subtle changes in posture, vocal inflection and walk morphed her through each character. She gives voice to the cacophony of the class (she's told early on that it is normal to expect the kids to arrive anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes late for the 41 minute class) that addresses the real need for crowd control over instruction more often than not.

Her play addresses the flaw in the system, a system so patently unfair that it is absurd. How can we standardize what is in truth quite individual? The hype about the NCLB program is all about raising the standards - one more example of the NeoConservative ability to spin words of compassion into a lie, a contradiction - when in truth NCLB is all about numbers over ideas.

The students in her play are not angels. They are gang-bangers; they are from broken homes; young thugs and thuggets (is that a word?) who fall into racist and sexist name-calling and threaten each other on a daily basis. Still, she manages to find a way to open some of their minds, if only briefly, to the similarities of their lives to the prisoners in far off Australia, in another century.
“The theater is an expression of civilization,” one student, quoting from “Our Country’s Good,” announces to Ms. Sun, after she has given up on the school show in utter exasperation. “The convicts will be speaking a refined, literate language and expressing sentiments of a delicacy they are not used to. It will remind them that there is more to life than crime, punishment.”
To all the teachers of our nation, I applaud you. No child should be left behind. How many will be, though? How many?

Another Modest Proposal: Charge Extra to Live in Disaster-Prone Areas of California

The California Legislature has a modest proposal under consideration. California spent $412 million fighting wildfires last fiscal year – a record. Just two weeks into the new budget year, the state has already burned through a third of that total. So the Legislature contends that if the State of California is to continue to protect homes in burn areas, owners must pay more fees for the priviledge of burning up.

Insurance companies love the idea. It's always in their best interest for us to pay more, and get less. Fire season in the West, Hurricane season in the East, Tornado season in the Midwest - it's always something. We should be expected to bear the brunt of it, right?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Banality in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Two of the greatest philosophers of the 20th Century were born today: Jacques Derrida, and Walter Benjamin. Derrida's work on the Philosophy and Theory of Deconstruction, upends the Western metaphysical tradition.
Deconstruction is not synonymous with "destruction", however. It is in fact much closer to the original meaning of the word 'analysis' itself, which etymologically means "to undo" -- a virtual synonym for "to de-construct." ... If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. A deconstructive reading is a reading which analyses the specificity of a text's critical difference from itself.
The Critical Difference (1981), Barbara Johnson

Benjamin was a Marxist, and critic. His long essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, was extremely important to me when I was in art school - as was Derrida in general. Benjamin's piece was an effort to define a theory of art that would be "useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art". Benjamin talked about the "aura" of a work of art which, to him, meant traditional association with primitive, feudal, or bourgeois structures of power and its further association with magic and (religious or secular) ritual. In the age of mechanical reproduction (print, film, photography) where there is no actual "original", the experience of art would be freed from specific place and ritual and made available to the masses. He wrote: "For the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual."

Ah, but we live in the age of "Low Information Voters." We live in an age where a philosophy that requires critical thought has been made banal by the age of mechanical reproduction - deconstruction meets mass media. Deconstruction no longer resides in philosophy, but "launches" fashion products, bathroom items, sports equipment, political attitudes. We have an irony deficit as the world becomes more and more banal.

Why does this matter? The New Yorker Cover that depicts Obama as a Muslim, fist bumping his wife who is clad as an afro-wearing, machine-gun toting militant in the oval office, portrait of Osama Bin Laden on the wall, while the American Flag burns in the fireplace, is why it matters. The New Yorker said the cover was illustrating an article called "The Politics of Fear", a satirical look at the scare tactics being used to derail Obama's campaign.
"The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that's the spirit of this cover," a New Yorker spokesman said in a written statement.
I get it, I really understand what they think they've done and what they intended. But if you deconstruct the contradictions, you find that it did not work. The majority of people will not read the article, and will focus on the image. Mechanically reproduced images are fast, and say a lot. And the cover treads on very thin ice. It is offensive. It plays into the politics of fear. But it is charicature and it is satire and it is getting people talking.

More important: it was not censured.

I don't care for the cover at all. In my opinion, it fails in its intent because so few people actually will go to the deeper meaning. Each of the "symbols" present in the drawing refer to various attacks by the far right against Obama, and the cover's intent is a commentary on that type of politics of fear. But it plays too close to the actual fear - perhaps by not being absurd enough, perhaps because we've lived in a climate of fear for too many years now, perhaps because as a nation we have lost our soul. We certainly have lost our ability to think, to exercise critical thought and discourse.

But I would not cancel my subscription to the New Yorker. Nor would I demand they remove the cover nor would I demand an apology. I've thought this through, and I am now at a point where I applaud them for their big brass ones for risking so much ire. Yes, it is offensive. Maybe I am glad that somebody somewhere has decided to not be politically correct. Maybe we need to be offended more often. What do you think?

We Interrupt This Blog for the 2008 All-Star Game

I predict Chicago Cubs 8, American League 3. Why, Diva! Are you not going way out on a limb? And it's the National League vs. the American League after all.

Well, my friends and scoffers, the roster says otherwise. There were three Cubs named to the starting lineup: Geovany Soto, Kosuske Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano but he won't play, he's injured. Then, there are four Chicago Cubs on the pitching roster: the adorable Ryan Dempster; darling Carlos Marmol; be still, my heart, Carlos Zambrano; and the hunky Kerry Wood. And THEN rounding out the reserves: Aramis Ramirez (I love you, Aramis). So there. Chicago Cubs, 8, American League 3 - and I am being generous.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama has a plan

Obama has a plan for Iraq, which I read this morning. He begins by saying
The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
The term "phased redeployment" is, for me, troublesome, but I think I understand his logic. He talks about needing to protect our troops during the withdrawal, and he talks about a plan that would being the moment he takes office, a 16-month withdrawal that would have all US troops out of Iraq by summer, 2010.

Summer, 2010. More than seven years since the war began. Seven years, more than $1 Trillion wasted, too many deaths, too many wounded, and our nation at home in financial crisis. I'm torn by Obama's plan. Part of me says "Not soon enough!" and part of me realizes that what he proposes is a realistic plan to get us out of this horrific morass that Bush created.

A few days ago, I watched the DVD, Sir! No Sir!, a powerful film about the government-suppressed story about the GI movement to end the war in Viet Nam. I urge you all to rent or purchase the DVD, and to take a stand with Iraq Veterans Against The War. We MUST keep Obama accountable.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Which Superhero Are You?

I'm wondering what kind of Nun Mary Ellen really is. Found this test at her place.

My results:
You are Supergirl

Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Friday, July 11, 2008

Help Desk Update

Normally, this is Granddaughter blogging day for me. However, I have spent the better part of three days trying to get some software downloaded and the fucking download kept timing out. Finally, yesterday, I tried again and it worked! So then I called the help desk because I needed more information for the installation. That all went well, until I went to sign in. There was a firewall, something preventing me from logging in, some license agreement bullshit. So I call the office, and they try to conference me with the help desk. But that kept disconnecting, as K. doesn't really know how to do the conference call thing. So she tells me she'll call me back. She talks to the same three people I talked to, and finally the one guy says, "You know, it would be a whole lot easier if she just uses 'GoToMyPC'."

Well, fuck me sideways. Where's my easy button?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sub-Prime, anyone?

Do not pass Go. Do Not collect $200.
Game makers Parker have phased out the standard multi-coloured cash in a new version. Players will instead use a Visa mock debit card to keep track of how much they win or lose. It is inserted into an electronic machine where the banker taps in cardholders’ earnings and payments.

Parker said replacing of cash with plastic showed the game was moving with the times. Spokesman Chris Weatherhead said: “The new electronic Monopoly reflects the changing nature of society and the advancement of technology.”

Hat tip to Betmo for emailing me about this travesty in board games. I wonder if Phil Gramm is the default banker?

The G8 Dine and Dash

In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders promised to increase global aid by £25billion a year by 2010 and raise aid to Africa, the world's poorest continent, by £12.5billion. But the bloc of rich nations is only 14 per cent of the way towards hitting its target. This year, in Hokkaido, Japan, they're dining on a variety of delicacies such as caviar, milkfed lamb, sea urchin and tuna, with champagne and wines flown in from Europe and the U.S., while they discuss the international food crisis, and try to forge out an agreement about climate change.

Conversation snippets:

George Bush: All y'all, I think this here crab bisket soup is a li'l bit hairy.

Gordon Brown: George, really, it's Hairy Crab Bisque, a real treat.

George Bush: An I thought it was a crisis in crabs. Hell, yes.

The menu is a tour-de-farce. Dominic Nutt, of the charity Save the Children, called the conference deeply hypocritical. I think that is an understatement at best, and typical of that British Reserve thing.

It is more than hypocritical to injest such a meal while wheat prices soar, and floods savage crops. It is more than hypocritical for a leader of a nation to call for "prudence and thrift in our kitchens", as Gordon Brown told the citizens of the United Kingdom, and then sit down to an 18-course banquet.

And while George Bush was hobnobing in Japan, Vice President Dick Cheney's office sought to prevent a federal official from publicly discussing the health consequences of global warming. I don't get it. I really, truly, cannot comprehend how people can be so callous, so deceitful. We all write about this, we all point out the abuses of power over and over and over again, and yet some part of me cannot comprehend how we can allow this to happen. I am overwhelmed by it all.

I admit that a lot of my clients are highly affluent people and I send them on lavish and elaborate trips. I am mindful of where they go, and my goal, my aim, is to expose them to other cultures so that their hearts are touched. But when I encounter the blatant, wanton excesses like this G8 conference, and the comments of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the citizens of the UK, I am absolutely rendered dumbstruck. To say that I am enraged would not do the feelings I have justice. Someone, somewhere, help me to understand just how we allowed this to happen. Because I can't get it at all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Really Shameless Self-Promotion

I've been quoted in Travel Agent on an article about Australia's Northern Territory!

Diva Jood of ______, CA-based Travel Agency, has been to the Northern Territory several times. “Whenever I leave the Northern Territory I weep like a baby,” she says. “It’s my spiritual home.”

If she had a client visiting the Northern Territory in search of an authentic experience, and cost wasn’t a factor, she’d begin with an outback camping trip led by experienced guides. She’d then book them into a stay at Bamurru Plains. Heading into the Central Plains, she’s a fan of Longitude 131°, a high-end property from Voyages Hotels & Resorts. South of Alice Springs, her clients would stay at Gunya Titjikala, an exclusive indigenous luxury tented camp resort within the traditional desert community of Titjikala. She’d wrap up her clients’ Northern Territory journey with a booking at Bullo River Station.
They got the order wrong, but still. I like to do a combination of Bamurru Plains with Bullo River - I like to send people camping with my friend Mike Keighley. But it's nice to be quoted.

Conversation with the Help Desk

I need to download a program onto my laptop for work. To do so, I had to call the Help Desk, which is not something I am accustomed to doing - asking for help, that is. After all, I am a Mother, and a Grandmother. I can do EVERYTHING. Not so much, but still. The illusion gets me through the day.

ME: Hello, help desk? I need help.

HELP DESK: Do you have Internet Explorer?

ME: Why, I think so. Is that the little page thingy with the e on it?

HD: (SIGHING) Yes, that's it. Go to this site:

ME: (TYPING) Okay, I'm there.

HD: Click on blah.

ME: Okay, it's clicked.

HD: Now click on blah blah.

ME: Okay.

HD: Does it show the dancing bear? Click on the dancing bear.

ME: Okay, but he stops dancing.

HD: Good, that's good. He's supposed to stop dancing. Now save him to your desktop. It should take about an hour, so call back when it's done. It is a big file. Buh-bye.

ME: La, di, dah, la, di, dah. Oh, oh. It has timed out. (HITS REDIAL ON THE PHONE) Hello, help desk? It timed out.

HD: Oh, no. Not good. Some thingiemajigie or somesuch. I have to have someone from Hardware call you back. Buh-bye.


ME: Hello?

HARDWARE MAN: Is this Diva Jood?

ME: Uh-huh.

HARDWARE MAN: I am on vacation, but saw you needed help, so here I am to save the day. I have emailed you a link. Try the link.

ME: (TRYING THE LINK) It still times out.

HARDWARE MAN: Hmmm. I will have to call you tomorrow to install it. I will have to access your computer. There is a thingiemajigie or somesuch that prevents the downloading of files over a certain size. It's your ISP.

ME: Is that in English?

HARDWARE MAN: (LAUGHING) Yes it is. But it is a really big file, so I can save the day tomorrow when I am done vacating.

ME: Okedoke. Buh-bye.


This is a true tale, only the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Changing companies is a bitch and one half when your new place does not have anyone who understands the IT aspects of the job. Not tonight, dear. I have a headache, and it's only 9 AM.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Let's Go Surfing

Ya'll watch YouTube, right? I know I log in and watch stuff. It's fun. All the kids do it.A federal judge has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom its records of which users watched which videos on YouTube, the Web’s largest video site by far.
For every video on YouTube, the judge required Google to turn over to Viacom the login name of every user who had watched it, and the address of their computer, known as an I.P. or Internet protocol address.
Not that I am paranoid, but Big Brother can access everything from our dental records to what kind of hair color we might use. And the internets provide access to every keystroke.

Who do we email? Who do we chat with? What are we researching? What do we read? What do we purchase? What do we watch? Where do we go? Computers store this information forever, and it is quite easily subpoened. Time to support the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who have been at the forefront of Electronic Rights and our best line of defense. Because I don't want Viacom to have my information, for any reason.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Birthday

Yes, it's true. The Cowardly Cowboy Of Crawfordsville was born July 6, 1946. I wonder what he's going to get for his birthday? Will Congress serve him with Articles of Impeachment? Not likely, since he's not been accused of screwing an intern. After all, sex with an intern is far more serious than destroying the US Economy, or lying to the nation to drag us into an illegal war, or condoning torture. No, Dubya will probably get a nice cake, and a few attaboys from his small circle of sycophants. Perhaps he'll get a war with Iran, served up cold.

I would like to serve him his walking papers and a trip to a cell in Gitmo, but I apparently don't have a say in the matter.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Two Random Snippets

1. Phone Conversation, starring Gramma, Beanie and Mommy

Beanie: (on speakerphone) Gramma I ate soap.
Gramma: Oh, baby, how did that happen?
Beanie: Yeah.
Mommy: (in background) Tell Gramma what you did!
Beanie: I spat out.
Gramma: That's good.
Beanie: Yeah.
Mommy: What else did you do?
Beanie: Rinse and spit. (starts making swishing noises, then spitting noises into the phone.)
Gramma: How did you get the soap in your mouth?
Beanie: Yeah. I got soap in my mouth.
Mommy: She thought it was a cookie.

2. At an AA Oldtimers Meeting

Speaker: I heard a guy say he started coming to AA meetings because he'd get a lot of sex. (She pauses, looks around.) Shit, I only ever got a jelly donut.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Friday Granddaughter Blogging: Happy Independence Day

"Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong." – James Bryce

So but you can pracite pactice holiday safety like this you can wear a hat and sunscreen and you can drink lotsa water so you don dewaterate and you can eat one hotdog stead of six so you don getta tummy ache. And when you talk on your cell phone you can use a blue tooth my teeth are white but you shud drive hands free with your cell phone I mean hands on the steering wheel. I have a Barbi Big Wheel and I can ride it all the time.

And my gramma read Pagan Sphinx today who said everybody shud read THIS post by Forks Off The Moment which tells us all to DO something. Which we try to do. I mean, how can we be really free when we allow the bad prezilnet to lie and cheat and torture and act like a dicktater?

Happy Independence Day. Maybe we will be independent of that bad Prezilnut Bush soon.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Adopt a Political Candidate

This morning, over at FranIAm's place, she brought up an important point. She says we MUST become invested in good local politicians. She then introduced us to Darcy Burner, Democrat for Congress in Washington's 8th District.

On July 2, her house burned to the ground. Her attitude: "We lost stuff. It's just stuff. The boy is fine. The husband is fine." She is in a tight race in the 8th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, who narrowly won re-election in a 2006 contest with Burner.

In light of the fact that I am feeling sorry for myself, I have decided to do the next indicated thing to get out of my naval gazing. The Diva is adopting Darcy Burner. I am doing this for a number of reasons: first, Reichert, although a moderate Republican, supports Bush's Iraq war; second, Burner is part of a group of Congressional Candidates who, if elected, will call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq; third, I really like her attitude.

Plus, as FranIAm pointed out, she needs the fundraising assistance. So, go here and donate, let's elect Democrats.

I Am Deeply, Profoundly Homesick

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where's the Red Carpet? I'm Ready For My Closeup, Mr. DeMille

The charming and irrepressible Randal Graves has tapped me for another of these lovely Arte y Pico Awards. Two gowns, complete with wings. The rules remain the same as before, five blogs, yaddayaddayadda, link blahblahblah. It really is a fantastic way to intruduce people to other blogs, because this is how we get to know each other's voice. That's enough seriousness out of my mouth for the day.

1. The group at The Sirens Chronicles, lead by Dusty covers a range of topics with passion and flair. I'm not sure if it's kosher to award a community blog, but I'm gonna. Go now, read the Sirens.

2. Pedestrian is an Iranian blogger for peace. Not a prolific blogger, but quite eloquent.

3. Coffee Messiah presents a mix of history (oral, photographic), music, philosophy, and peace all over a steaming cup of joe. I love Coffee Messiah. He is a true gentleman.

4. Kvatch and Company at Ragebot because they are the bomb. Humor, politics, anger, politics. Love them all.

5. I've just started reading DGuzman, and even though she adopted Alan Rickman, I still like her blog.

1)Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award which is here:
Arte y Pico.

A Musical Interlude

Shamelessly stolen from Padre Mickey's Dance Party

Dementia Concretia

Prairie Moon

Herman Rusch purchased the old Prairie Moon Dance Hall in Cochrane, Wisconsin, with the intent to stave away "old-age boredom" by turning it into a museum of oddities he'd collected. But in 1958, something in his interests shifted, and he began to make concrete and glass sculptures which included decorative arches and fences. So many "Outsider" and Naive artists begin late in life - as if they have finally shed the pressure of responsibilities and all this pent up light has to burst forth. When I first went to Prairie Moon, Rusch no longer lived on premises - he was in a nursing home nearby - and the residents refused to let people onto the grounds. If you lingered at the exterior walls too long, they would let the Dobermans out to scare you. But I recall being struck dumb by the golden cones, and the way the light danced off the glass. Prairie Moon is an exquisite example of dementia concretia, this impulse that takes over the elderly with this impulse to build, to make something iconic. And it is always from concrete, old bottles, and household junk. Detrius turned into beauty.

The Dickeyville Grotto
While most of the iconic examples are built by loners (Grandma Prisbey's Bottle Village in Simi Valley; Simon Rodia's Watts Towers), sometimes an entire community will come together. Such is the case with the Dickeyville Grotto. This exquisite Grotto was built by a community of immigrants in order to bring hope, and promise to them. Far from home, feeling uncomfortable and in unfamiliar ground, trying to assimilate, they built this ever expanding and complex religious structure from concrete, glass, and bits of pottery and religious icons they'd brought from home. It grounded them. When I saw this structure in 1983, I was overwhelmed with the intricacies of the mosaics. How could untrained eyes pull something together so beautifully? And in a group, no less. The energy of the place is oddly calming, despite how "busy" all the surfaces are.

The town of Phillips lies in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin. It is the home of Fred Smith's Wisconsin Concrete Park, out on Route 13. And this, this place, is without a doubt one of the two most impressive and moving examples of Outsider Art I've ever been to. The other one is Watts Towers.

Fred Smith was a lumberjack, who retired when he was in his 70s. That's when he began to build these statues - using chickenwire as an armature, he was more concerned with quantities than with workmanship. The entire park has been severely damaged twice by microbursts and rebuilt and restored. Fred built about 140 of these sculptures. Some are based on local people and incidents; others, like his version of the Chariot Race from the ORIGINAL, silent movie, Ben Hur, were based on popular culture. He kept building, and building, filling his acreage with objects. I can no longer find the photo I took of one grouping: it was four women, who reminded me so much of my grandmother and her three sisters - some aura about the grouping of Smith's silent women bespoke a strength of character that brooked no nonsense.

Their art matters to us. It matters to us because it is honest, without artifice, without a hidden agenda. It is the impulse that matters, the need to leave a lasting legacy. We recognize the purity of it, and, if we are blessed with eyes to see it, we recognize the beauty and grace of it as well.

I think about this work a lot - I think about it as I sit at my desk, in an office, with the air conditioner blowing and people just yammering away about nothing. I think about it because I ache to be making something myself and have not gotten back into it. The question I have danced around for the last twenty years is this: what has made me so afraid to paint and build objects that I stopped? What shut down? And how will it open up again, because it must open up. Art is in my heart, and I need to get it out into my hands again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Diva Jood Has To Purchase A Gown

Yes, it's true. Border Explorer has awarded me the Arte y Pico Award. And the reason Diva Jood needs a new Gown is because the Gown the Award is wearing is too lovely for words.

So, there are rules. Rules. The Diva hates rules, but c'est la vie.

1)Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4) Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award which is here: Arte y Pico.

I must bestow the award on five other blogs, which is terribly difficult because a)there are so many I really love, and b)so many have already gotten the award. Not that it's cheap, it's not. It's just that there are a lot of very good reads out there.

But I will follow the rules to the best of my ability.

1. FranIAm is an amazing blogger. Her blog is a mix of politics, personal, and a deeply spiritual path. I love her journey and honor it with this award.

2. The Pagan Sphinx has already received this award from Betmo, but I have to award it again. This blog is another mixture of peace, art, life and spirituality, and plus I got a fantastic salad recipie off her.

3. DK of Redheaded Wisdom is a favorite of mine. She's hilarious, she's political, she's passionate, and she's a great writer. Love ya, sista!

4. Utah Savage is another repeater. However, in the time she's been blogging, she captures attention with a mixture of memoir, humor, photography, and rage that is all tempered with a language so colorful it defies description. Plus she explained what a Swamp Cooler is.

5. Torrance Stephens of Raw Dawg Buffalo is an amazing writer. He is an educator, a poet, an entrepeneur, a philosopher, a father, and a pet store owner. I love his blog.

Okay, I have followed the rules, now go read them and get excited.

Whatever it Takes

Lou Dobbs wants to add Rotten Tomatoes to articles of Impeachment against Bush.
You know, I have heard a lot of reasons over the years as to why George W. Bush should be impeached. But for them to leave the Food and Drug Administration in this state, its leadership in this sorry condition and to have no capacity apparently or will to protect the American consumer -– that is alone to me sufficient reason to impeach a president who has made this agency possible and has ripped its guts out in its ability to protect the American consumer.
Look, Lou, if it takes tainted vegetables to get this guy's ass out of office, I'm all for it. I mean, obviously torturing prisoners isn't enough; lying his way into an illegal war isn't enough. The meltdown after Katrina wasn't enough. Maybe it will be tomatoes.