Friday, September 29, 2006

Travels with Fluff: Vacation Photos Starring a Tub of Fluff (Part II: London [and the Opal Coast of France, for one day, to get some wine])

Don’t blame me, blame Blogger. I was so excited to get all of my Fluff photos up here, and dastardly Blogger thwarted me. Repeatedly. I wasted hours, nights, patiently reload the photos again and again. Just when it would look like everything had worked out—denied. Bloody Hell! I got so frustrated that when it finally worked, I had to take a step back, lest my wrath take away from the joys of Fluff. Oh, and Flickr? My new best friend. In case you missed the first post, you can find it here.

Welcome Back to Travels with Fluff!

Fluff first traveled with me to England, and I would like to tell the story of how (insert favorite Fluff gender here _____) became my traveling companion.

My college friend ______, who now lives in London, was kind enough to offer me a place to stay while in England. Before I left, I asked her what she would like me to bring her from the good ol’ US of A. “Four boxes of Jiffy Bread cornbread mix and four jars of Fluff, please,” she replied.

“OK,” I e-mailed back. “Cheater cornbread I can understand, but what, pray tell, do you want with four jars of Fluff?”
“Oh, they are not from me. They are for my friend. She uses it to make _________. You can’t get it here.”

She lied. You can. In several varieties, as I learned on a trip to a cute little imported foods shop. Among the other American contributions: Pop Tarts, Heinz Ketchup, Corn Flakes, Apple Jacks, and Pringles. The French isle had some amazing cheeses and wines. The Italian, fresh pasta and incredible coffee. Oh, the pride in being American.

At least it isn't another bloody Starbucks

I typed back, “Fluff for your friend, I see. That’s what they all say, my dear.” That night, I went to the grocery store to obtain the supplies (me to another customer eyeing my purchases: “It’s not for me. It’s for a friend. In England.” Eyes rolled in disbelief).

The next day, my last day before I left, I told my co-workers about what I was bringing to England. I was somewhat embarrassed. That’s nothing, my boss said. While on vacation with her family, my boss’s daughter insisted on bringing a doll around with her everywhere they went. The family had to pretend as though the doll were real, addressing it in conversation and feeding it tidbits from the table, etc.

In the middle of the story, epiphany struck. Wouldn’t it be funny to carry around the tub of Fluff like that? I could take pictures with it! It would be like the
Garden Gnome Liberation Front (or Amelie), only better, because it would be Fluff and not some creepy garden creature.


Fluff French lawn gnomes

Fluff with Snow White and Dwarf Gnomes, Calais, France

And, so Fluff has been traveling with me ever since. Here are some highlights from our first trip. Most of these pictures are from London, but a few are from the jaunt to France to get some wine (I had forgotten that my camera ran out of battery life right when things got pretty). Hope you like them. Don't forget to take the Fluff Quiz below!

Fluff in London

Fluff with Phone box

Where Fluff changes into SuperFluff

Fluff’s first peek at Tower Bridge

Fluff on Tower Bridge

Can You See Fluff?

Fluff at Tower of London
Fluff at the Tower of London

Fluff St Pauls
Fluff at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Fluff with Pint and Chips and St Pauls

Fluff enjoying a pint and some chips along the Thames. St. Paul’s Cathedral is in the background

Fluff at the Ritz
Fluff puts on the Ritz

Fluff at Harrods
Fluff shops at Harrods

Fluff Lived Here
Fluff enjoying the Kensington digs

Fluff at Buck Palace

Fluff visits Buck Palace

Fluff in Picadilly

Fluff at Piccadilly, but not for long

Fluff and the Oxo Tower
Fluff and the Oxo Tower

Fluff and Rod
Fluff and Rod Stewart

Fluff and dinosaur
Oh-oh! Fluff at the Natural History Museum

<Fluff at VNA
Fluff at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Fluff at London Bridge

Fluff and London Bridge

Fluff on Bullshit Green
Fluff on the Bullshit Green at Parliament

Fluff in Soho
Fluff in Soho

Fluff at Coach and Horses

Fluff at the Coach and Horses in Soho

Fluff with a Pint
Fluff with friends, Pint and Mustard

Fluff take courage
Take Courage, Fluff!

Fluff does the British Museum
Fluff at the British Museum

Fluff at Whitehall
Fluff at Whitehall

fluff national gallery
Fluff at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

fluff in camden
Fluff is not on holiday by mistake! Fluff in Camden Town

Fluff learns a lesson
Fluff learns a lesson

Fluff in the underground
Fluff in the Underground

Here are a couple of shots from France

Fluff in Beloin
Fluff in Boulonge on the Opal Coast of France.
We showed up on the sixtieth anniversary of the Boulogne’s liberation from the Nazis

Fluff in Calais

Fluff slumming it in tacky France

Fluff Quiz the First!
Yes, kids, it’s time to put your books and notes away and get out paper and a pen for the first quiz. Well, you don’t really have to get out pen and paper, but take the quiz anyway. Answers to this quiz will be posted in the next quiz. Remember, if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.

1. Name one common recipe calling for Fluff.
2. Name two ingredients in Fluff.
3. To what does “Take Courage” refer?
4. How old is the existing London Bridge?
5. Would you go see the Rod Stewart musical? Why or why not.
Extra credit: In the photo from Camden town, Fluff declares that Fluff has not gone on holiday by mistake. What flick was Fluff riffing on?

In the next installment, Fluff takes a bite out of the Big Apple.

Senate Abdicates Accountability and Condones Torture

Last night the insomnia banshees finally left me alone. As a result, I learned about the passage of one of the worst bills in Senate history (65–34, with 12 Democrats unworthy of the name voting for it and 1 Republican standing against his party, Lincoln Chafee) from NPR’s Morning Edition and not the BBC. Oh, what a beautiful mornin’!

I knew it was coming. The White House has way too much power to let three “rogue” senators keep them from getting one step closer to their goal: absolute authority. So I’m not surprised, only sickened. Just so we’re clear, with this bill the Senate has determined that

  • CIA torture (ahem, sorry, detention) centers are legal
  • short of murder or rape (and even that is defined hazily), torture is a gray area, best adjudicated by the president (fare thee well Geneva Conventions, thanks for your efforts to keep us from behaving like Nazis and getting away with it)
  • US personnel are immune from prosecution for War Crimes, in the unlikely event that our president determines that such personnel crossed the blury torture line he (or she, should Condi win the White House) establishes at whim
  • Habeas Corpus, keeping rulers from imprisoning people for the hell of it since 1215, and a constitutional right (“unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it”—extremely shaky grounds, there, Mr. President), doesn’t apply. Those held by the US government may not challenge their detention in US court
The House, which passed a very similar bill already, will almost certainly agree to the Senate’s changes. Bush should have the law by the weekend.

Congress, by passing such a bill, has abandoned the principles upon which this country was founded. They have abandoned the principles that have allowed us to stand against such behavior, because even when such atrocities were committed by the US in the past, these atrocities were at least deemed unacceptable and some semblance of accountability was expected. Instead of improving on that accountability, Congress has abdicated all accountability.

We as citizens have a responsibility when Congress does such a thing. We need to vote every single last representative and senator responsible for this travesty of justice out of office. Failing that, we need to demand the impeachment of those responsible.

Otherwise we may as well start saying “Heil Bush.”

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Cosmic Thing

    Our network’s down, so I’ve been doing a lot of web surfing today. Taken out of context, this is the best headline I've ever seen. The B-52s would be delighted.

    Happy Banned Books Week!

    “Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information.”
    Intellectual Freedom Manual, 7th ed., American Library Association

    As both an avid reader and an ardent defender of the First Amendment, I am ashamed of myself for nearly forgetting Banned Books Week this year. I suppose other things, like the nightmare news about FoxFaith studio and reports about Congress deciding that the Geneva Conventions are something to be followed only when it’s convenient, distracted me. Oh well. Better late than never. Here are some thoughts for this Banned Books Week.

    All too often conservatives charge liberals and progressives with being unpatriotic and threatening American values. I for one take strong exception to that accusation. I do not support the current administration, and I oppose a number of general policies of the US government, not because I hate the United States, but because I cherish the ideals enshrined in the Constitution too much to let the right chip away at our fundamental liberties and our freedom.

    Freedom includes the right to read and write whatever the hell we want, regardless of whether or not it offends another's sensibilities. That’s the point of the First Amendment. We get to have our ideas and beliefs because we allow others to have their ideas and beliefs (looking at you, religious conservatives). Rather funny that those who point fingers at liberals and progressives are usually the first to try to ban books, ain’t it? Those who would ban books have missed the boat. Censorship is profoundly un-American.

    To call attention to our need to defend our First Amendment right to read whatever we want, the American Library Association started Banned Books Week in 1982 and has celebrated it every year since. Check out their list of the
    100 most frequently challenged books and find out who made the top-10 for 2005 (Captain Underpants made the list). Consider it a badge of honor to have read even one of these books. Put another one on your list.

    So, it may be a bit belated, but here’s a big round of applause for fearless authors and readers everywhere, and a huge shout out to librarians who fight for access to books. Thank you!

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    It’s the End of the World as We Know It: Learning about FoxFaith while Suffering at the Hands of the Insomnia Banshees

    When I suffer from insomnia, I listen to the BBC. May as well learn something instead of lying awake staring at the ceiling, I figure. Sometimes the soothing British accents even lull me back to sleep. Not last night. Last night was a night for learning.

    I had been a good girl and went to bed around ten, but the insomnia banshees had other plans and woke me up at midnight. Cursing the bastard insomnia banshees, I switched on the BBC determined to learn stuff. I did. I learned about some nitty-gritty details concerning the recent intelligence report on Iraq (depressing), heard some stuff about Tony Blair’s last speech at the Labour Party’s conference (now that he’s leaving, he might be a bit more like Bill Clinton than George Bush), learned more about the horror show in Sudan (devastating), and kept up on my British sport (I had no idea that Chelsea had a football club and that a Bollywood star was going to be in a movie about it).

    Finally at around four, I started to drift off, only to have the insomnia banshees pick that time to announce that my smoke detector’s batteries needed changing. I did not know then that an intermittent beep meant that it was time to change the batteries, and since I live on the third floor of an old New England house, I stumbled around my apartment checking things out. Satisfied that there was no fire, I read the back of my smoke detector and threw the dying nine-volt battery across the room. Wide awake again. Sigh.

    The BBC’s programming turns to entertainment around four in the morning. There are different programs each weeknight, and on this one, I heard a chummy interview with Toni Collette, star of this summer's Little Miss Sunshine (hilarious) and The Night Listener (sounds like another misguided Robin Williams project). “Beauty doesn’t interest me” (or something close to that—it was the middle of the night), Collette told the interviewer. At all? I thought, remembering another interview with the Village Voice. But then she’d been talking about sexiness, and I suppose those really are two different things. I was mulling this over when the stuff of nightmare came over the airwaves.

    Turns out that Rupert Murdoch, encouraged by the success of The Passion of the Christ (I so told everyone so that Mel Gibson has some anti-Semitic tendencies), has decided to go for Armageddon. He’s announced FoxFaith: Family and Christian Films. That’s right, folks. The religious right has a movie studio of their very own. Isn’t controlling all three branches of government enough? Do they really need their own movie studio? Aside from Kirk Cameron having a place to go after everyone gets left behind, is there any justifiable reason for this unholy union? Next thing you know he’s going to turn MySpace into MyReligiousRightSpace. Talk about banshees.

    I’m telling you. It’s the end of the world as we know it. I don’t feel fine at all.

    No wonder I can’t sleep.

    The Twenty-Third Qualm
    It seems as though angst about the religious right was on everyone's mind today. I received the following gem from a co-worker.

    The Twenty-Third Qualm
    Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
    He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
    He restoreth my fears.
    He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
    Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.
    Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
    Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
    My health insurance runneth out.
    Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
    And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    All the King’s Jackasses: My Weekend at the Movies

    Obviously some kind of bizarre vortex has sucked something out of the universe. Stephen Hawking must have an explanation, because I certainly cannot understand why a film based on one of the great novels of the twentieth century sucked pud, and a flick about a bunch of well, jackasses, worked. Wormholes. It’s the only answer.

    In case you didn’t know, All the King’s Men is simply an amazing novel. Graduate school and I didn’t get along too terribly well, but I am so glad that I took a class in Southern history and literature, because I probably never would have read Robert Penn Warren’s story otherwise (I had already read Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O'Connor, Richard Wright, and William Faulkner). History is not a field known for scintillating writing, and the novel was tonic to my story-starved soul. Curled up on my couch, the tale of southern politics, betrayal, and loss (aren’t they the same?), narrated by the world-weary Jack Burden, enthralled me. The story broke my heart, while giving me insight into the charisma of Huey Long. If you haven’t read All the King’s Men, you might want to consider putting it on your reading list. You won’t be sorry.

    Do not, however, put the muddled Sean Penn snoozer on your must-see list. You will regret it. Ugh. The crap screenwriter-director who ruined Schindler’s List gutted All the King’s Men by reducing it to gauzy atmospherics and twitching. Honestly, I have nothing good to say about it. My poor boyfriend had no idea why on earth the Louisiana legislature wanted to impeach Penn’s herky jerky Willy Stark (a fictional Huey Long), or why Jude Law’s unconvincing Jack Burden needed to dig into the past of the man who raised him (Anthony Hopkins) in order to stop the impeachment from happening. In other words, he couldn’t see why the story mattered. If all I’d seen was that terrible movie, I wouldn’t know either. Talk about being conceived in sin and born in corruption, only to pass to the stench of the shroud. Sucked into a wormhole, All the King's Men was.

    I was looking forward to All the King’s Men Friday night. I did not plan on seeing Jackass: Number Two ever. To my way of thinking, Jackass represented a wholly other kind of stench. Pranks involving dangerous levels of testosterone, shit, pubic hair, ass-branding (with a penis cookie cutter), and horse semen are frankly not my cup of tea. I like my IQ, thank you very much, or if I'm going to sacrifice it, I do it with shows like Grey's Anatomy (see below). I don’t know what to blame it on, the rainy day, disappointment in All the King’s Men, the desire to shock my boyfriend by agreeing to see it, or wormholes. It was either the vortex, or a combination of the other three that drove me to the multiplex. I've been bored and disappointed before, and I have other ways of shocking my boyfriend. So I'm praising the wormhole.

    Jackass is hilarious. Side-splitting, gross-out, piss-yourself funny. I nearly threw up, not once, not twice, but three times, the third being a very close call (things that made me retch: eating horse shit, drinking horse semen, and a guy wearing a fart mask and throwing up in it). Hysterical, zany, and surprisingly joyous, the stunts and pranks performed by Johnny Knoxville's posse of grown men were like a giant middle finger (or a big, hairy moon) shoved into the face of maturity.

    In the middle of the romp, John Waters performs a magical disappearing act. Perhaps it was his magic trick that caused the vortex? That could be, but I don't think so. We've had too much depressing reality of late. We know all about corrupt politicians. What the world needs now is Jackass, and that's why the vortex happened.

    Or maybe I'm just full of horseshit. All I can say is that I didn’t stop laughing (except when I was retching) from the opening scene of Number Two to the closing credits (scored to “Treatment Bound” by the Replacements—my all-time favorite beautiful jackasses). My brain was sucked into a wormhole. It was great.

    Tell Stephen Hawking I don’t care.

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Anatomy of Me---A Sad Sack Grey's Addict

    OK, confession time. I’m one of those sad sacks who is completely addicted to Grey’s Anatomy.

    I love it. Since it’s about smart people, it’s not really a soap opera, right? Of course not. I’m learning about surgery. I know all about CTs and gigantor tumors. It's educational. Oh, who am I kidding? Do I care about all the Whipple procedure or stand-still operations? Hell no. I wanna know about Meredith and McDreamy and sneak in a good cry when no one’s looking.

    I am pathetic.

    I’m not like this. I don’t like TV. I don’t even have cable, but I want to hook it up so that I won’t miss a single moment of the high times at Seattle Grace.

    It’s humiliating.

    Just read this recap of last night’s season premiere:

    Despite all that emotion, the show's writers seemed determined to keep last season's romantic plots from turning the episode into pure soap opera. They reminded us that this is, in fact, a medical drama by throwing both the plague and a dying baby into the mix.

    They needed the plague AND a dying baby to make sure that it didn’t devolve into pure schmaltz.

    No wonder I’ve never done anything with my life. I’m a secret sad sack soap addict.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    Vote, Damnit

    Today’s primary day in Massachusetts. In my small town, we still go to vote in the fire station. The ballot is a piece of regular folded paper. We mark a big “X” in pencil next to our candidate’s name, and place the ballot in a little slot before the nice lady cranks it into the strong box. The votes are counted by hand. Given all the shenanigans with voting machines lately, I’m not sure if I mind this system (of course, the opportunities for fraud are legion, but at least they won’t be made by nefarious computer nerds). I love voting. I think you should too.

    Since it’s an election day, I’m going to get up on my soap box. Vote, damnit. I don’t care who you vote for, I don’t even care if you vote (gasp) Republican. Just vote. The best thing about this country is that we get to say who rules us. We hire and fire our leaders every couple of years. That we can do this at all is amazing. And it depresses the hell out of me that so few people get it. Turnout numbers are despicable. As this Globe columnist writes, more people are interested in 24 than they are in democracy.

    I’m not naïve, and I know that the two-party system is rigged to keep the powerful in power. There are a lot of changes necessary. But guess what? None of them will happen if you don’t vote at all and turn your back on your responsibility to say who is in government.

    Don’t like the way things are? Vote.

    One of Those Weeks

    Ah, Life. It gets a little messy sometimes. I guess that’s what keeps it so interesting. I haven’t forgotten this thing, and I fully intend on updating it. It’s just been one of those weeks.

    I’ll be back with bells on tomorrow night.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    September 11, 2006: Thoughts on My Birthday

    Today’s my birthday. I’m thirty-three.

    I’m thinking about the year, how I’ve stumbled, how I’ve grown and changed.

    I’m thinking about Bridget Jones, tapping on a little bobble head as she gave her day's accounting in cigarettes, alcohol units, and age (thirty-three). I’m thinking ruefully about how old she seemed to me when I saw the movie and read the book.

    I’m thinking about how I decided to throw my hat into the dating ring again, and how happy I am to have found someone who makes me laugh and who I love. I make him laugh, and he loves me.

    I’m thinking about how lucky I am to have the friends I have, friends who have really come through for me this past year. I’ve come through for them too.

    I’m thinking about my family, and I’m grateful for them. My parents called me this morning to sing me “Happy Birthday,” telling me how happy they are to have me as a daughter. I'm thinking about my sister and brother-in-law who invited me to visit them in Italy, giving me the best vacation of my life.

    I’m thinking about the exhilaration I felt while wandering through the streets of Rome this past spring, remembering that the world is much bigger than me and still small at the same time, remembering that this seeming contradiction is the miracle that is life on this Earth. Remember this, I told myself, writing it in my journal in a park overlooking the ruins Coliseum and the Forum.

    I’m thinking about how lucky I am to be alive.

    I’m thinking about these things, evaluating my life up to this point.

    But I’m also thinking about my twenty-eighth birthday.

    I awoke that morning to a beautiful day. I love it when my birthday is warm and sunny. I had been visiting my parents in Laconia, and I had gone to my pottery class there the night before. My pottery class had thrown me a little party, and my parents had made me a special breakfast that morning. I was set to have dinner and drinks with my friends that night. I had a job that I loved, and overall, I was happy. I had listened to NPR on the forty-five minute drive to Portsmouth and had parked my car just before 9:00. The news was filled with the usual stuff of the day, nothing terribly exciting. I bounced along on my way to the office, smiling at people, glad that it was my birthday.

    The phone was ringing when I unlocked the door to the office. It was my boss’s father, calling to tell my boss that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. In the minutes and hours that followed, happiness evaporated, replaced by horror and an overwhelming sadness.

    And so, in addition to all of these little things about my life, I’m also thinking about the final, terrifying moments of all those people who died that day. I'm thinking of the images of those people who survived, covered in ashes, trying to comprehend what had just happened as they dug desperately through the ruins, or wandered home in a daze. I'm remembering a former coworker who had left New York after she had to climb out of the New York subway system, one stop away from the World Trade Center, and make her way uncomprehending, crying, her feet bleeding, home to a husband who thought she was dead. She had no idea what had happened until after he'd found her and carried her home. I'm thinking of her sobbing as she told me this, nearly a year later, having never told anyone the story before.

    I’m thinking about the horror that has followed that day, and the perversion of that suffering used as an excuse for political domination and violence.

    I'm thinking about how the world has changed, and how many of those changes break my heart.

    I'm thinking about how the world is both bigger than me and smaller than I imagine. When I checked the weather last week, the forecast was for rain on my birthday. I awoke instead to a bright and beautiful day. I could see the moon in the cloudless blue from my skylight. The leaves are still green, though some of them are turning red and gold. The air smells clean. I’ve made some coffee, and I’m going to sit in my comfy chair and reflect.

    My birthday wish is for peace.

    Friday, September 08, 2006


    Yeah, so. I woke up early this morning to try to get a few things done. In my exhausted state I was entirely ineffectual, and my efforts were for naught. So then I tried to upload my pictures on thisy here blog thingy, and that didn’t work either. Shit! In this fashion, I managed to waste my entire morning, and I had to rush out the door without taking a shower. I had to rush because I had a meeting at 10:00, and I wasn’t quite ready for it.

    Rush, rush, rush.

    So I got here on time, gathered everything together, and then, guess what? I had the time wrong, and the meeting wasn't until 11:00. My entire department was in the room already, and so I looked like a complete, dirty ass (everyone to their credit was very nice about it). Then the meeting lasted two and a half hours, and I hadn’t had anything to eat and not nearly enough coffee. So then I grab my lunch, and people kept coming over to talk to me about work. Fuck off! I wanted to scream.

    Then I had to go to the Post Office to mail a package. I got there, and there were only two people ahead of me in line and two tellers. Perfect! Then one of the tellers went on break, someone else got to cut in line because they were being helped someplace else, and the customer in front of me had several packages and some specific demands. Finally it was my turn, and the postal worker was trying to figure out the new system, so it took nearly ten minutes to buy a stamp and mail a package.

    It’s 3:15 on a Friday, and I should be psyched because I only have one hour and forty-five minutes left in my day. Then it’s the weekend, right? No! I have to go to work tomorrow at 10:00 to work at a sale. This is my company’s way of making sure that everyone stays humble. I get to stand in a cavernous space, with weird yellow lighting and sicky-sweet air, handing out receipts to people for seven hours. We’re supposed to work two sales a year. I worked the sale in November, and then I was traveling FOR WORK for the last sale. Does this count? No! Must work sale. This is my birthday weekend. Did I mention that my birthday is September 11th? My birthday is on a Monday, it’s supposed to rain, and it is the fifth anniversary of a national tragedy. Happy Birthday to me . . . Oh, and I’m going to be thirty-three, just one step closer to being officially in my mid-thirties. And, and, and . . .

    Bloody hell.

    The only nice thought I have is that my wonderful boyfriend is going to wine and dine me tomorrow night. Please think good thoughts so that I won’t bite his head off for being loving and kind.

    4:15 UPDATE
    The day’s gotten better. I just got an e-mail from an irate author whose book we were just discussing at the meeting this morning (specifically the infeasibility of producing this very strange little book). He said, and I quote, “I’m a bit perturbed. No, I’m steamed.” Well guess what I am?! I decided that in the interest of keeping my job that I would reply on Monday.

    Not five minutes after receiving the e-mail, I got a phone call forwarded to me. Some strange little man was looking for one of our author’s agents. We haven't worked with this guy in ages. I was trying to explain that I couldn’t give this information out, and he says, “But he has something with his legs.”

    “I’m sorry?” I said, trying to keep my inner thoughts out of my voice. “He has something with his legs," he repeats. And I''m supposed to be of help in this matter?

    But then something good for real happened. One of my work friends gave me a really groovy mix, featuring a song about pigeons flying out of a canvas. Oh, and a chocolate. Music and chocolate improve things a lot.

    Fluff Update

    Grrrr! I've been trying to upload the pictures for a day now, and the little image uploader won't let me do it! Evil thing.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    From the Department of What the Hell? Bush Admits to Secret Prisons

    So, after months of tight-lipped silence from the administration about reports of secret CIA detention centers, Bush finally admits that they exist. The administration has sanctioned these detention centers in direct contravention of international law, not to mention basic principles of American justice and moral decency. What does the US have to hide, if the interrogation techniques and judicial procedures are legal? I’m going out on a limb here, but I say plenty.

    Just like the the warantless wiretapping, the lack of evidence supporting the war in Iraq, the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, etc., etc., ad nauseum, Bush is not ashamed of these illegal activities. He’s actually proud of these centers. He touts them as evidence that America is safer. Really? Imagine what we are opening the troops we support so much, not to mention ordinary American citizens traveling abroad, up to. How can we stand against inhumane treatment if we are sponsoring it?

    But these questions are logical, and I keep forgetting that Americans seem to have lost their grip on logic. Here is a president who has broken law after law after law, and Congress hasn’t impeached him. No, it is far more grievous to give a high schooler’s definition of sex than it is to jeopardize the America’s position in the world and the safety of the American people. I, for one, am disgusted.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    It’s a Strange, Strange World: Tidbits from Today

    Ripped from the Headlines

    I Got Cher's Stuff, Babe
    Well, turn back time! You can bid on Cher’s stuff. Sequins, feathers, fishnets, everything. Can you just imagine the cat fights that are going to break out at that auction? Wonder if she’ll be selling the stuff from the “Half Breed” video.

    But I Didn’t Hit Any Goats, Officer
    You can go one hundred miles per hour, just so long as you don’t hit any goats. At least this Swiss guy thought so.

    The Best Spam Subject Line Ever

    I received a spam e-mail today with the following subject line: “That said, Ponyets, was a planet suddenly a cigar.” Couple of things here. First, I’ll be calling my friends “Ponyets.” The moniker reminds me of My Pretty Ponies. This makes me happy, in some sick and twisted way. Second, I think they’ve stumbled on the way to deal with Pluto. A planet suddenly becomes a cigar. Perfect! I can see the abstract art now. Ceci n’est pas un planet.

    Incidentally, Sunday's Boston Globe had an apology from one of the members of the plutopooping committee responsible for demoting Pluto. His apology doesn’t do squat for my useless diorama.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Travels with Fluff: Vacation Photos Starring a Tub of Fluff (Part I: Introduction)

    Ah, September. The summer wanes, and so begins the long, slow journey into autumn. Berries give way to apples. Long days at the beach become walks in the woods, the paths strewn with red and yellow leaves. There is a bite in the air, the nip of frost, as we turn our focus back indoors, preparing for the winter.

    And all across America, students are writing that dreaded essay, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Can you just smell the sharpened pencils and lies?*

    I am not a student, nor did I take a proper vacation this summer. Still, I guess that cyclical rhythm of the school year taps away in my brain (rather like water torture, just substitute taps for drips), for I feel compelled to write the essay anyway. Or, kind of. Mine gets to have pictures, and there’s not a blessed thing Mr. Ferguson can do about it. So, here is a multi-part photo essay of my travels. It stars a tub of Fluff.**

    Introductions are in order. Meet Fluff.

    This is Fluff at home, with friends Spamalot Spam and St. Francis of Assisi Hologram.

    Fluff, however, doesn’t just sit around at home with congealed meat parts and flashing saints. No, Fluff gets around. Fluff travels with me on my vacations, and since I can be a bit camera shy, (insert favorite Fluff gender here) kindly agrees to pose in my tourist photos for me. In the next few installments, you will get to travel with Fluff to England, France (for a day, to get some wine), and Italy, as well as to several American locales. There will be quizzes and fun Fluff facts along the way. So pack your bags, and let’s be off!

    *OK, I’m not that out of touch with things. I know that students use computers, but really. Does “Can you just smell the smell the keyboards and lies” sound as good to you?

    **For the benefit of those of you who do not know, Fluff is a marshmallow concoction (I can’t determine whether it is a sauce or a spread, so “concoction” is going to have to do) found primarily on the East Coast of the United States. If you would like to know more about what Fluff is, read the quiz answers.

    Top photo: Fluff against an Italian “Do Not Enter” sign, overlooking the wall in Orvieto, Italy.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    It's Labor Day! Procrastinate and Be Lazy! (Fun and Games to Waste Your Time)

    It’s that time of year again. Quick! Sneak in all that summer fun before serious sweater weather hits.

    I would love to write something brilliant about the worker, but I am feeling monumentally lazy. It is noon, and I am still in my pjs. I don’t have a blessed thing to do today. I feel great. And so, on this Labor Day Weekend, I would like to honor leisure time, specifically stolen leisure time. Here’s to Procrastination and Laziness!

    Hip! Hip! Hooray!

    Hip! Hip! Hooray!

    To celebrate these two time-dishonored traditions in American work life, I thought that I would share some of my favorite ways to watch my precious minutes and hours on this Earth (especially those ones when I’m supposed to be being productive) get sucked into a black hole. So rip up those covers to the TPS reports and start wasting time! (Add your own favorites in the comments section.)

    Lead Bush by the Nose
    Esso leads W. by the nose. Now you can too.

    This is the best bubble wrap game. Make sure you ask for a fresh sheet. Mooooore!

    Sugar Crash
    This game is sick.

    Time suckage for the crafty.

    Ski Free
    This was my favorite game on my first computer. You will have to download it to play (and there are a few tricks on the main web site). Ski Free is inane, senseless fun. The Abominable Snowman makes me laugh every time. Apparently, I am not alone. You can waste more time reading the collection of Ski Free fan fiction.

    Office Space in 30 Seconds by Bunnies
    Watch bunnies perform your favorite movie in thrity seconds! Perfect for when the boss goes to the loo.

    Guardian Quizzes
    Time suckage for the brainy. Alas, the Guardian doesn't have these nearly as often as they should, but there's enough here to waste some precious time.

    I'm sure if I really put my mind to it, I could come up with more. But I'm not putting my mind to anything at all today. I'm being lazy. Have fun, and add one of your own!