Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hewitt, Chait and Bias.

I'm a couple of days late with this but I wanted to blog about it anyway. Hugh Hewitt, the quintessential GOP party man and radio talk show host, instituted a policy a while back. That policy states, that he will only agree to be interviewed by media representatives if he can release the entire transcript (after the article runs) of the interview on his radio show or on his blog. He also has engaged in interviewing members of the media on his show in an effort to shed light on their biases and experience base that might (and often does) color their reporting.

Hewitt thinks, and I agree, that it is nearly impossible to report without bias on politically or socially charged issues. He thinks, and here again I agree, that it is better to be transparent about your biases so that your audience may evaluate what you say accordingly. Recently he interviewed Johnathan Chait of The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times, and asked the same raft of questions he has subjected all his media subjects.

Questions from the transcript:

HH: Okay. Let me ask you, Jonathan, to get you in the ideological universe, are you hard-left, or merely liberal?
HH: Well, no. I...then I start asking the questions. You voted for Kerry, right?
HH: And you voted for Gore, right?
HH: And did you vote for Clinton two times?
HH: 33. Okay, so you're 33 years old, you've voted for Democrats your whole life. Have you ever voted for a Republican?
HH: Have you ever owned a gun?
HH: Okay. He didn't know anyone in the military. Do you know anyone in the military?
HH: Do you know anyone whose been back and forth to Iraq and been deployed there?
But do you know anyone whose really lived the (military) life?

Throughout the interview Mr. Chait grew increasingly incensed at the line of questions, and now has written about it in The New Republic accusing Mr. Hewitt of McCarthy-ite tactics and complains of being labeled an elitist. What Mr. Chait does not seem to understand is Mr. Hewitt didn't ask the questions just to discredit him to a red voting audience. I doubt if Hugh Hewitt's audience was surprised and dismayed by Mr. Chait's answers, in fact, I'd wager an enchilada dinner with all the trimmings that none of the answers was a surprise.

My brother in law is a career Naval officer who has been in the Persian Gulf many times. If I have a question about military capabilities or general sentiment of military personel I ask him, going straight to the horse's mouth. There is a HUGE disconnect between the how the boots on the ground view our military actions in the middle east and how the media views our military actions. So when Mr Chait complains:

Later, he proceeded with a lengthier inquisition into whether I had friends or relatives in the military. He asked a version of this question some half-dozen times. ("Is there anyone that you want to bring up, like your aunt or your uncle, or the guy down the street?") I volunteered that my next-door neighbor and friend is a naval reservist, but this failed to mollify him. "Do you know anyone who's been back and forth to Iraq and been deployed there?" he asked. Sadly, I was unable to produce any evidence for my defense.

he doesn't seem to understand it goes straight to the heart of his understanding. No one is going to pillory him (ok, well some people will), but he needs to realize no one would care if he knew a serviceman or not if there was an accurate reflection of the military actions in the media. That this phenomenon is not limited to ignorance and bias of military issues, and that leftist and Democrat philosophy is dominant throughout established big name media, should be explanatory as to the relevence of the questions.

So no Mr. Chait, we are not trying to pick on you, or black list you, look at it as an intervention - admitting there is a problem is the first step.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Etiquette, political posts and essays at MyWhidbey.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I love my language. I like reading about words, what they mean and how they have come to mean it. I like reading the dictionary. I highly recommend reading Bill Bryson's book on the American language. So I am somewhat sympathetic to defenses of native tounges even when they are infantile. From the Times article:

PRESIDENT CHIRAC stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English.

President Chirac and three of his ministers walked out of the room when Ernest-Antoine Seillière, the leader of the European business lobby UNICE, punctured Gallic pride by insisting on speaking the language of Shakespeare rather than that of Molière.

When M Seillière, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”

Now Msr. Chirac is a short sighted, pompous little man but I have no doubt he loves his country. If the French president cannot take umbrage over a slight to the French language no one can. Walking out was silly and pointless, Msr. Chirac would have done better if he stayed put and asked Msr. Seilliere to speak in French because they were both Frenchman.

France is peculiar in that national language is dictated by the state. Explains Agnes Poirier:

France must be one of the very few countries in the world, if not the only one, where the Prime Minister is officially in charge of national language policy. The Prime Minister's cabinet has direct authority over Le Conseil supérieur de la langue française. In France, one can use only words that are correct, authorised by law and sanctioned by the dictionary.

Which is why English has become the language of business. Like most things institutionalized by the state, the language will wither and die. It will not expand and be versatile enough to meet demands placed on it will fall into disuse. Chirac is right to defend his language but his methods for defending it are foolish.

Apple Strudel

Have not done a recipe in a couple of weeks so here's a delicious one.

Apple Strudel

4 cups flour
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
Combine ingredients in bowl to form soft dough ball. Knead 15 minutes and let rise for one hour in warm place. While rising make the filling.

10 apples, sliced thin
1 cup butter
1 (1/2) cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1 cup cake (bread) crumbs

Melt butter. Add crumbs, sugar and spices mixing well. Let stand until cool. Turn out dough onto floured surface. With your hands flatten dough until thin, then use rolling pin to flatten until paper thin. Spread filling over dough then apple slices. Start at one end and roll, taking care not to tear dough. Bake 65 minutes at 350. Note: you may use bread crumbs instead of cake crumbs but increase sugar by the bracketed amount.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Frightening the Muralist

On the train they play family movies, or at least PG movies, and it is usually geared towards the 8-13 crowd. On the way home the second movie was Chicken Little (2005) which I will not blog about other than to say it was lamer then Madagascar (2005) because at least Madagascar has funny penguins and a hypochondriac giraffe. Chicken Little did have the distinction of scaring the Muralist, practically unheard of. I'm not calling the Muralist unsensitive, but (unlike the Verbalist) she tends to be a hard headed realist and very little phases her. She got the practical gene from Dear Husband's family; industrious, and as happy painting a room as painting a portrait.

As I sat assuring the Muralist the baby alien would be reunited with it's avenging alien parents (not the Chicken Little you remember, huh?), I catalouged the potentially frightening or traumatic movie scenes which didn't ruffle her feathers.

Dumbo's mother chained by the circus folk. No Sweat.

Sleeping Beauty:
Malefescent in all her frightening appearences. Shouts of "Get her you prince!" as Prince Phillip does in her dragon form.

Snow White: The Queen poisons an apple. Muralist asks for apples and peanut butter.

Finding Nemo: Of the eight different near death experiences only the very first (all the eggs getting eaten and Nemo's mother dying) concerned her at all.

Bambi: The most tramatizing movie of my childhood, she seemed rather bored with it all. Perhaps it's because Bambi's mom is part of the "circle of life" which brings us to:

The Lion King:
King Mufasa's death and the final battle with Scar was of less concern than how bad Sarabi would feel when Simba and Mufasa were gone.

All of this is small beer compared to Jurrasic Park. The blame for this can go directly on my mother and a baby sitting that will go down in infamy. Now the Muralist was (and is) into a pretty heavy dinosaur phase and she and the Verbalist did some pretty slick talking and worked the Soft Touch into letting them watch it. Tyranusaur Rex eating a guy off a toilet? Nothing funnier. It was finally the Raptors stalking the kids in the kitchen which pushed the "scare" button, not to mention the fast forward. Very occasionally she still look in our pantry and announce it dinosaur free.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sada on the Daily Show

Iraqi General George Sada was on The Daily Show the other night talking up his book to Jon Stewart. It was a really interesting interview, not just because Sada is an interesting individual, but because he is unequivical about the existence of Saddam's WMDs and their preinvasion transfer to Syria. What was interesting was the quiet of the audience as Jon interviewed him. The Daily Show's audience is pretty interactive and tends to come down left of center, but there seemed to be a palpable "whoa" moment going on in the audience.

Articulate and engaging, he cannot be easily dismissed. The assertions made about WMDs are not new, conservative news and opinion journalists covered this weeks ago. I couldn't help thinking that it was the first time a large portion of the audience heard that an Iraqi bigwig confirm the arguement.

Mssr. Reynolds links to an earlier interview with Mr. Sada and excerpts a email from James Lileks commenting on Sada's book.

In his book he doesn't say he saw the WMD sent to Syria, but he describes the operation, and says this:

"My own knowledge of these transfers [WMD to Syria] doesn't come from any of the published reports but from a man who was actually involved in the transfers - a civilian pilot who witnessed the commercial 747 going back and forth between Syria and Iraq at that time. And he has confirmed for me that it happened just this way."

Sada says there were about 56 transfers. He is much more specific about his first-hand knowledge of a planned WMD attack on Israel in the run-up to the first Gulf War, but of course we have to take his word for it all. Or not.

Existential Questions of Childhood 4

Verbalist: "Do seagulls poop in rainstorms? If so, does the wind blow it different directions?"

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

We're Baaaack!

We left Friday to go to the family gathering whose purpose was to honor the passing of Dear Husband's grandfather. The kids did very well traveling the 6 hour train ride each way. We did get a couple of those looks. The one you get taking a baby anywhere that will put them in a prolonged situation with people unused to small children. These people almost inevitably assume that a small child can not behave. I generally feel that parents are the most to blame for unruly children. Sometimes you can't help it - there is only so much goodness a tired child can sustain and there is no chance they can nap. Most of the time it's a matter for planning. Books, snacks, coloring books and crayons, and the magic bullet - movies. The train played some and we also brought a few to play on DH's computer (which utilized harly at all). None of which satisfied the Infant, whose sole purpose in life is to see and be seen. No wailing, screaming or running the aisles; no whining, fighting, or (blessedly) motion sickness.

I'll post more later after unpacking.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday Link

I have been out of town this weekend so just a quick link. Richmond has a scrumptious Carnival of the Recipes up. Go. Look. Salivate.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Put Down the Crack Pipe and Walk Away

Via John Miller:

Russian Communist leader sees U.S. behind bird flu outbreak

MOSCOW. March 14 (Interfax) - Russian Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov has blamed the United States for the spread of avian influenza, or bird flu, in a number of European countries, including Russia.

"The forms of warfare are changing. It's strange that not a single duck has yet died in America - they are all dying in Russia and European countries. This makes one seriously wonder why," Zyuganov said at a press conference at the Interfax main office on Tuesday.

Zyuganov said that he has good knowledge of war gases as he dealt with them during his army service.

"I tested all kinds of war gases at a range myself," he said.

Asked to be more precise as to whether he believes the bird flu outbreak could be a deliberate attack by the U.S., Zyuganov answered positively.

"I not only suggest this, I know very well how this can be arranged. There is nothing strange here," he said.

So bird flu starts in Asian countries and then spreads to other Asian countries and then Europe before it hits the US and this is somehow sinister? That Dastardly Karl Rove! How dare the US be seperated from Asia by an ocean! It's those anti-Pangaea bigots who are to blame!

Where are Tom Servo and Crow When You Need Them?

This week's movie is a colassal stink fest. I am warning you right now: it's horrible. It's beyond bad and moved into the realm of so wrenchingly awful it's funny. I bring to you The Lady and the Highwayman (1989), tagline: a Swashbuckling Epic of the 17th century. So far so good. Cast: Hugh Grant, Emma Samms, Oliver Reed, Michael York, Clare Bloom and the always entertaining Ian Bannen. Ian Bannen's sadly minute part as the heroine's evil husband is testament to the schlocky goodness a one dimentional villian can bring to the screen. How bad can a swashbuckler be with that cast? I stress again, tearjerkingly, roll on the floor helpless with laughter bad.

Our story opens with a dapper Michael York in a plumey hat, shoulderlength wig, and pencil thin moustache galloping across the downs with a small company of riders, trying to outrace soldiers behind them. York plays Charles II who has just canvassed the populace and determined they are ready for him to wrench the country away from Cromwell. King Charles famed for his decadence and sensualism, has no charisma in York's portrayal, rather just the boundless good humor exuded by Basil Exposition in the Austen Power's flicks. (I hope that he brings more realism to his character in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!)

As the remorsless Roundhead soldiers decend on our gallant band of Caveliers, York switches plumey hats with Lord Lucius Vyne (Grant) whose's job is to fool the decending soldiers into chasing him while the king makes his escape. In HEAVY foreshadowing, we learn Lucius is heir to a dukedom, supposed to look out for the sister of the current duke (a cousin and Lucius' best friend), and now is given a opened ended favor by King Charles.

Before we get any farther in this movie, let me reflect for a moment on the picture quality. It seems that a soft focus was given to most shots. It was so bad I actually checked to see if I was wearing my glasses. I was. Anyway, onward!

Young Lord Lucius in his borrowed plumey hat easily fools the soldiers and leads them merry chase down the coast. He rides his horse here, he rides there, then in dazzling display of cunning dodges into a big ol' cave. Up ride the soldiers, where did he go? They are baffled. He's gone and it has nothing to do with the GIANT cave off to your right the length of two horses. Unfortunatly, YLL's horse whinnies and tips off the soldiers to the secret cave and they give chase. Everyone blunders around a while and out comes YLL on top of the bluff and the soldiers down on the beach. The horse rears, YLL smiles the Hugh Grant Self-Deprecating Grin (TM) and leaves the soldiers to scratch their heads.

Enter Lady Panthea Vyne, or Pantyline, as I affectionately think of her. She rides home to find the evil taxman (Bannen) with a nefarious plan. It seems her brother, the duke, has been captured and imprisoned by Cromwell, because he was a royalist. If Pantyline marries Bannen he will exert his influence to have her brother's life spared. In throat grabbing bewilderment, Pantyline agrees. Alas, Pantyline has never thought to verify evil taxman husband's story. She marries him and is promptly fighting off his lustful advances in an open carriage while the coachmen sit and listen in embarrassed silence. A shot rings out! Who could it be? The heroic YLL, disguised as the highwayman SilverBlade. He informs young Pantyline that her brother is already dead, challenges the dastardly husband to a duel and then buries the body.

The story wearily goes on from there. Pantyline's aunt (Bloom) shows up to take Pantyline to court. Dialogue as follows:

Pantyline: "This is my home. I'll never leave it!"

Pantyline's Aunt: "You are all alone here!"

P: "No I'll never leave!"

PA: "But I'm so lonely!" (so very lonely)

P: "OK then."

PA and Pantyline join the wicked court of Kind Charles who has deposed Cromwell, none of which we see. Enter the King's jealous and scheming mistress (Samms). (Is there any other kind?) She takes umbrage at Pantyline's golden curls (no, I am not making this up) and friendship with the King's new wife. Lots of talky-talk about who is who at court. Lest we forget the hero, we get occasional shots of a plumey hat riding around the countryside to quasi-noble music with real tinny horns.

For reasons I miss while moving laundrey to the dryer, Silver Blade is connected to YLL and also to Pantyline. The mistress, along with YLL's dastardly cousin set to get the dukedom when he's framed, find out about Pantyline's short lived marriage and set up to frame her for the murder. They succeed beyond their wildest expectations, mostly due to Pantyline's stupidity. She dismisses her own lawyer for Pete's sake and decides to defend her own stupid self in court. Of course she's saved by LLY who seems to have heard of her plight on one of his periodic gallops through the countryside.

It ends happily of course. I am sure Lucius and Pantyline have lots of stupid but good looking children. Really though, I needed robots to appreciate the way it deserves.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Banning the Koran and Freedom of Religion

Jeff Goldstein links to a news report about a German seeking to ban the Koran because it is a political tool as well as a religious one. Jeff says:

Clearly, the book is being used as both an all-purpose, migratory superconstitution and as a call to arms by those currently in control of the narrative of Islamic identity politics (the Dubai Port Deal uproar is a clear indication who Americans, at least, believe control the current Muslim leadership).

Then he asks:
The question becomes, what would the effect be of a nation putting its foot down against those who would presume to introduce such a direct and outspoken threat to its sovereignty and law from within?

But is it a violation of free speech to deport imams preaching destruction of the west, and using the Koran to do so? Or to prohibit the use of Wahabbist sermons coming straight from Saudia Arabia into US mosques and Islamic cultural centers? Or is there some overriding national security question that overrides free speech claims under such circumstances?

Jeff asks a good what if as he does so he omits a critical factor. First, the United States is not Germany. Germany has curtails on free speech already that is not found in the United States. Second, in banning the Koran and deporting imams you would run afoul not only of free speech, but freedom of religion also.

Freedom of religion is a much bigger deal in the United States than it is in Europe with it's anaemic state churches. While someone like the wholly vile Fred Phelps runs around the US it is unlikely that the equally poisonous Wahabbist imams are going to get different treatment.
The trick then is to enforce the laws in place for incitement, conspiracy to commit crime and the like.

The distinction should be made between Christianity and Islam and their effects on the political system. Christianity sprung from an oppressed people and it's message takes into account the reality of a worldly government hostile or indifferent to it's adherents. Christianity is at heart a life of obedience and servitude, both to earthly authority and God's authority. Jeff quotes the "rending unto Ceasar" scripture and it is a good pithy reply. Also though consider the apostle Paul's admonition to slaves in Ephesians 6 starting in verse 5:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

and in Phillipians Christians are enjoined to imitate Christ:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So here we see the two sides of the coin on Christian obedience. Submitting to earthly authority over you and serve the just authority as you would serve God. Remembering the example of Christ who became a servant (and becoming a man submitted himself to earthly authorities). For all the ballyhooing about the impending theocracy in Bush's America, the mainstream Christian theology understands that Jesus himself spoke of the heavenly kingdom and not an earthly one and that the apostles taught on how to live under a secular government.

Contrast that with explict instructions on running earthly government in the Koran. With set laws codifying the jizya (or blood price) and restrictions of dhimmitude. I am not saying that Islam cannot come to an accomodation with Western culture but it will require a drastic reinterpretation away from the accepted meanings of the Koran today. Jeff asks what would be the consequences if a nation clamped down on the outspoken Wahabbist imams?

I honestly don't know that Germany could clamp down on these imams without horrible results, BUT I think that it is worth fighting for. The other option is to give in to the radicals who wish to institute sharia without a fight. What of the US? The usual groups would squawk about the erosion of civil liberties but Americans have not drunk as deeply from the appeasement well. The duty of the state is to protect its citizenry, this should apply to Moslems clerics as well as fringe Christians who preach hate. Watch them, prosecute them when they break laws, revoke citizenry and visas when necessary.


Some quick links for you today first Dubious Wonder is hosting the Carnival of the Recipes this week. Looking through the recipes there are some I really want to try. I like the looks of this Shepherd's Pie made with stout from Citizen Grim, me-ander has some yummy looking Purim cookies, and what kind of mom would I be if I didn't serve my kids Toad in the Hole? Speaking of the trials of momhood, Life in A Shoe presents the first Kid Carnival.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Potato Corn Chowder

If you are like me, you have at some point looked through your freezer and said to yourself, "Uh, it's March and I have just discovered the rest of the Christmas ham. What should I do with it? It seems a shame to waste it." The answer: chowder!!! This recipe can be made without the ham but it is easy to include.

1/2 cup of butter
1 small yellow onion diced
2 carrots diced
2 tbsp celery seed
1 large clove minced garlic
1/2 cup of flour
2 cups corn kernals (pref. sweet white)
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup diced ham
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper

Melt butter in large soup pot then sautee onion, carrots, garlic and celery seeds until onion softens. Add flour to make a roux, stirring until smooth. Set aside and then in new pot combine, potatoes, corn, ham and stock. Bring to boil then add to roux, stirring as you do so to keep from lumping. Bring to boil again and slowly add milk. Let simmer stirring often until carrots and potatoes are tender. Add seasonings to taste.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Benthic Explorer this is Deep Core

Do you remember that movie, The Abyss? (1989 really? Wow) Minus the nuclear warhead, that's alot like the Verbalist's fantasy life. He goes from Navy Seal, to undersea explorer, to alien first contact all within the space of a half hour - sometimes simulatneously.

Yes, you guessed it, it was bath time. Splashing and giggling punctuated by a gargled: "Watch out!" Then, horrors, what does my ear catch? The water running full bore. Oh Dear Lord above not that. Overflowing, spreading across the floor, meeting my big, fluffy socks which turn oh so cold and clammy. I turn off both faucets and scold the grinning five year old as I peel the sodden footwear from my chilly tooties. Turning, I drop them in the hamper. As I do I hear the ominous *slap, slap, slap* of little hands. The Infant has crawled to the fray, face shining, as she discovers the joy of two inch standing water.

More Funny

I love Chinese food. I am a Cashew Nut Chicken junkie. When I was pregnant and could barely keep food down, cashew nut chicken always sounded appetizing. Sometimes though menus tend to have a clanger as they are translated from Chinese to English. I invariably point it out to my dining companion and chuckle but I don't want to be rude so I do so quietly. I don't know if I could ever have not rolled on the floor laughing if I saw this menu at the local Chinese food joint. (HT: Jonah Goldberg)

My favorite? "Fragrant bone in garlic in strange flavor" I think I actually had that once.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Funny, Funny

Frank J. of IMAO has a new "In My World" up. This last one was pretty funny. Best bit:

"High school is not a time for foolishness like this. This is a time to learn math and grammarness and play sports, or, alternatively, to flunk out and ruin your life. It is not the time to learn to be a political retard; that's what college is for. You students need to demand more from your teachers."

Got to go work on my grammarness now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


"Oh I have a plan!" chirps the Verbalist, coming out of his brown study. "First we drink our milks, then we can have some cookies." He has been on a cookie kick all day. Got up - why I feel like having a cookie! Finished the oatmeal, why I deserve a cookie! Got dressed, um, cookie? Why they are just there, in the blue jar Mom, just so you know.

"Do you know," asks the Verbalist disingenuously, "that the word cookie starts with the letter 'C'?" I make a vague noise of agreement, the constant lobby for a cookie has intensified since lunchtime. I turn to him.

"Tell me, how do you say cookie in Sign Language?" Story Time at the local library always includes a word or two in sign language, he might actually know. His brow furrows and he looks out the car window.

"Look! That cloud looks like a cookie!" He points.

"With choc'late chips! Yummmmm." pipes the Muralist from the backseat. She had been wisely silent during this crusade, preferring to keep her powder dry until victory seemed imminent.

"Nice try," I say dryly.

"Wellllllll," drawls the Verbalist, stretching out the word, "I know how to sign banana."

"Oh good! You may have one of those then; good thing I got some at the store."

"Not a banana!" cry the two elder siblings in unison. "Silly mom! We're not monkeys!" continues the Muralist, conveniently forgetting her banana consumption the day before.

We pass Penn Cove and then climb the hill to the narrow neck of the island. Where North Island had been warm and breezy, we now find ourselves entering a misty fog bank.

"Not summer yet," observes my son as rain splashes on the windshield. "Just the right weather for some hot chocolate and cookies!"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Site Updates

Thanks all for helping me pass the 10,000 site view mark before my one year blogging anniversary. Please also check out the latest addition to my blog roll, Life in a Shoe which features kids, homeschooling and recipes.

Movie of the Week

Our movie this week is a classic, perhaps one of the best movies ever made. Can you guess which one? I'll give you a hint. It features Nazis, Claude Rains, and Ingrid Bergman and should never, EVER be colorized. Your right! It's Notorious (1946), you weren't fooled into thinking I was going to say Casablanca (1942). Not that Casablanca isn't a strong film (she says in complete understatement), rather that Notorious is tighter and we don't have Paul Henried as an impossibly noble Czechoslavakian breaking Ingrid's heart. Now, now I don't need emails telling me how wrong I am. Victor does break Ilsa's heart and Rick's too; that the broken hearts mend is beside the point.

Notorious also has the delightfully delicious Cary Grant as TR Devlin, Ingrid's love interest. Plot encapsulated: Alicia Huberman (Bergman) daughter of a Nazi agent in the US, is employed by the US Government to ferret out a group of Nazi plotters in Rio. She falls in love with her handler, TR Devlin (Grant), and must choose between patriotism and love when she is asked to marry one of the Nazis, Alexander Sebastian (Rains), in order to get better information.

Of course Alicia isn't the squeaky clean Ilsa Lund, oh no. Alicia is an alcoholic who has slept around a good deal. All the Governmental guys who are using Alicia think poorly of her, even Devlin is skeptical of her sobriety. It is to Alicia's credit that she is as forgiving as she is. I can't imagine a modern movie where the heroine is dumped on by everyone but the baddies and she still does what she ought because she gave her word and believes in the purpose of it all.

Did I mention this is an Alfred Hitchcock movie? Yes, the Master. I can think of maybe one other director who can make objects so sinister, or significant, or keep you in such suspense. M. Night Shyamalan. If anyone could remake a Hitchcock movie it would be Shyamalan. Gus Van Sant? What were they thinking? The Good Will Hunting guy? He's a competent director but I don't think of Van Sant when I think of taut suspense. The remake of Psycho has a great cast: Vince Vaughn (who is a better actor than his pick of roles), Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, Robert Forrester, and William H. Macy, so I am inclined to lay it's suckitude at the feet of the director.

So if they did happen to remake Notorious? It should be a update, not a slavish shot by shot remake. The daughter of a naturalized citizen cooperates with FBI in foiling her father's plot to blow up a synagague and exposing a terrorist cell, although her role remains unknown to the world at large. She is enlisted by the US government to infiltrate an organization in Pakistan, which is known to be a front for her father's terrorist group.

She falls in love with her government liason, although the rest of his department regards her with skepticism and distrust. Is he using her? Does he love her? She marries one of the terrorists and learns of a secret operation in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. As her husband has gotten more suspicious and jealous he forbids her to leave the house or communicate with the outside world, so her trips to the market, where she has an information drop, cease.

When her bosses are unconcerned about her silence, dismissing it as part of the "culture". her liason becomes increasingly concerned. He rushes to save her. What will happen next? Can you see this being made into a crep fest? Easily. Can you see this made into a crep fest by Shyamalan? Nope. The one thing is I can't see Shamalyan being interested in doing this project because he uses the fantastic to highlight the everyday drama of emotions and relationships, and there is nothing fantastical in Notorious. Can you picture him doing The Birds though?

Thursday, March 02, 2006


On Tuesday, the Dear Husband's granddad passed on. I have not written on it because I have not been sure what to say. I'm still not sure. I have been ruminating on it. I chase three kids all day and in the quiet moments I am not slapping together peanut butter sandwiches (or perhaps more accurately when I am) the mind leaps to Bob, then leaps away and then is inexorably drawn back. I am glad he is no longer suffering. I ache for the sadness of my loved ones.

I've never really known my own granddads. One died in the 80's, the other I have hardly seen, due to the vicissitudes of divorce, ill health and a move to the other side of the nation. One of the wonderful (and at times, aggravating) things about the DH are his close family ties. It was through these bonds that I appropriated his grandfolks. I have reveled in their warmth and endlessly amused myself by tracing their peculiarities through my in-laws, my husband, and through my own children.

There will be no funeral, per his request, only a quiet cremation. We will however gather with the rest of the family to celebrate his life with memories, a wake without the body. I look forward to hearing the stories of his life, he was always a surprise. One of my favorite memories of him, as well as one of the last, is of him sitting in a chair in my in-law's living room. He has a cane to one side, a glass of wine at his elbow, and his face is composed in a look of earnest gravity. Off to his right is the Verbalist, unfolding the details of his latest imaginative landscape, into a willing ear. I catch Grandpa Bob's eye and he smiles and points at my son as if to say, "Boy, can this kid talk or what?" He never stopped the Verbalist though or brushed him off, he sat there listening, asking, exploring the breadth of the world laid out before him and enjoyed his wine with a smile.

It's My Blog and I'll Sneer if I want To

I like movies. I don't like all movies but I am willing to give most movies a go. I like reading what other people think about movies, but I think that some professional reviewers have gotten into a sneer mode. Even some of my favorite reviewers fall into this, along with some of my not so favorite reviewers.

I know that The Pink Panther is an odd movie to defend. It is not great or epic film making, yet that is precisely the point. It's silly, it's supposed to be. It's not witty, it does not deliver a message, it does not rely on bad language for a gasping, outraged laugh. It's silly, entertaining, and the entire audience we saw it with walked out smiling. In the midst of a morass of pretentious crep, risque comedies I could never recommend to a friend, and awful movies where the actor seems to just be punching the timecard; it is refreshing to see a movie that has no pretense of greatness and the actors seem to be enjoying themselves.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Cow Punchers

The Verbalist and the Muralist received stick horses at Christmastime. Not the stick horses of my youth, these were deluxe horses with a reins, a wheel on the base and genuine horse sounds. The horses spend good part of their lives tethered to the hitching post (read footboard) but then about once a week they are gotten out and are integral in huge, cooperative flights of fancy between the kids. Last week we had knights.

The Muralist, no shrinking violet, was not content to be the maiden languishing for a rescue - that was left to her dollies, of which there is no dearth. They armored up, the Muralist resplendant in a pink, floral helmet (which doubles as a sun hat, economy, her watchword). They tied belts around their waists and stuck in one side their samurai swords, in the other their cardboard and aluminum foil daggers. (These daggers also double as pirate cutlasses, the Verbalist is still trying to figure how he can work his horse into the pirate storyline.)

"There can be only one," say I in my best Connor MacLeod impression as the Verbalsit brandishes his plastic katana.

Two heads swivel towards me, "Huh?" they grunt.

"Nevermind," I wave them off.

"Save the Princesses! Past the dragon! Charge!" they yodel and gallop down the hall to the Muralist's room.

"What dragon?!" I said looking around for the Infant. She gurgles at me happily, nope no dragon here. Which leaves us with - the dog. Never fear, they were not going to actually battle their way past her.

"Here dragon, dragon," pipes the Muralist's less than dulcet tones. "Have a dragon snack." Duly bribed, the dragon ambles out to the living room, peanut butter sandwich on her breath. Her gold eyes are bright. Dragon dealt with, princesses saved, quest much shorter than originally planned, the knights are making post battle celebration plans.

"Tournament!" shouts Verbalist enthusiastically and he and his sister start whacking at each other their swords. It ranged all over; I was waiting for a candelabra to be pushed over a la Errol Flynn. Just as soon as it began it ceased - a draw. They galloped around for a while, giggling madly. Even the eternally vigilent mother has to use the bathroom sometimes; it was the opening they had been waiting for.

"1-2-3!" penetrated the tiled walls. The ominous sounds of whack, whack intensified as I hurried out. So help me, they were jousting. One had the broom, the other the mop and on three they ran and bashed each other. But that was last week.

This week they are cowboys, or as the Muralist says cowboygirls. Cowboys take very good care of their horses so they have been feeding them apples and marshmallows.

"Where," I asked foolishly, "are your cows. NOT your baby sister." I hastened to add, seeing the Verbalist's eyes cut her way. The dog was absent. That left - the cats. So they have been herding cats. Isn't it wonderful?