Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman

The very first man I had a major crush on....

I used to make out with my pillow and pretend it was him in "Hud". Hey, I was only about 10... give me a break! (my sister used to make out with the mirror...THAT was telling!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Would Sarah Palin Name YOU?

Find out here with the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator! Mine would be "Shove Maggot". Nice, eh?

Well, when your mother names you after the math class she probably failed* ("Trig"), you gotta wonder. Then again, the Little Rascals had a mule named "Algebra".

*See, "Alaska produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." Yeah, 3.5% is "nearly" 20%...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Biggest Political Rally in Alaskan History ...

From Mudflats:

"‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ Rally is HUGE!

I attended the Welcome Home rally for Sarah Palin this morning. Hooo. It was an experience. About a thousand (maybe) hard-core Palin supporters showed up to hear her speak at the new Dena’ina Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.

After shaking it off with a good double shot of espresso, and a brisk walk back to my car, it was time to head to the Alaska Women Reject Palin rally. It was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots”, and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

So, as I jettisoned myself from the jaws of the ‘Drill Baby Drill’ crowd and toward the mystery rally at the library, I felt a bit apprehensive. I’d been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it’s a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren’t sent by Eddie Burke, we’ll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing “socialist baby-killing maggot” haters.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody’s trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn’t be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around (links are appreciated) to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blind Dating, Italian Style

For Photo Friday: Relationships, an appropriate rerun:

Image hosted by

One of the reasons I am so puzzled by my mother, who can be seemingly soulless, is because her parents were incredibly soulful. They were sweet and funny and extremely loving, and since they lived upstairs when I was a chld, I credit them with teaching me everything I know about being a good person.

My grandfather had a particulary interesting sense of humor. In February of 1907, he wrote a letter to a woman he knew in Italy. He had come to the US ten years earlier on the SS Barbarosa (I like to think of it as the SS Vinnie Barbarino), and was ready to get himself a wife. So, he wrote this letter asking the woman to send him one of her daughters. I don't think he was very much more specific than that. He sent a picture of himself, a handsome 21 year-old man with a full head of red hair. My grandmother (all of 17 years old), selflessly offered herself up as she knew that her mother was struggling to feed all of her children, and that making this sacrifice would help ease the burden. She did this knowing, too, that she might never see her family again.

She boarded the SS Patria on February 5th, traveling "steerage" which meant packed like sardines in the lower quarters of the ship, and arrived at Ellis Island after sixteen grueling days at sea.

After the immigration process, she was taken to the Bushwick section of Brooklyn to live briefly with a cousin. There, she met the man she was going to marry. The only problem? The picture he had sent was a little, er, outdated. He was, in fact, 31 years old, fat and bald. According to my grandmother (in her adorable little accent that she never lost) "I cry for a year!"

Probably due to the extremely reduced expectations that people of that generation had for happiness, they remained married for over 60 years. In all of that time, much of which was spent on the 2nd floor of our house, I remember them having only one fight... and that was a dispute over what the weatherman had predicted for that day.

She was a feminist before her time (even cutting her hair when she arrived in America and not piercing her daughters' ears. She refused to be bound by old-world traditions). He was the "mayor" of our block, playing with all the kids and tossing lit firecrackers at their feet while yelling "Dance-a! Dance-a!"

And so, I say "Salud" to Sal and Lucy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Coming Together for Nie Nie

If you have not seen or heard the story of the woman behind The Nie Nie Dialogues, please click on the link to her blog. She is a popular blogger who, along with her husband, was in a plane crash and both suffered severe burns and remain in critical condition. Her blog readers have come together and raised over $100,000 to help them (and their four young children).

This story touched me in particular because of my own online experience with a community of women coming together to help the family of a women we "met" on a message board WAY back in 1996. I posted about this awhile ago, but thought I'd repost it today. Anyone who thinks that there is no such thing as the kindness of strangers really needs to read this, and read the story of Nie Nie as well:

I first went online (via AOL) in 1994 when I was pregnant with my son. At that time, AOL was more of a content site than an access site, and was filled with message boards on every imaginable topic. Since I was pregnant, I gravitated to boards about that and childbirth, and continued to read and contribute to them while my son grew. One board I read from time to time was the Infertility board, only because I was interested in the process of IVF (as opposed to the process of "ah crap! forgot to use my diaphragm!").

There was a woman who posted on that board named Heather. She was 28, and she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for eight years. She had lots of fibroid tumors but had finally been able to have successful surgery to remove them all and was thrilled to be pregnant. Because of the unusual nature of her surgery, Dr. Max Gomez did a story about her on the local NYC evening news, complete with the happy ending...she was going to have a baby.

We all followed Heather's progress on the board...she was SO exuberant and couldn't wait to have this baby. Finally, her husband posted that she was in labor and that he would come back to report everything. And then, nothing. A day passed, two days passed...nothing. One of the women from the board ultimately posted that Heather had a baby girl via C-section, but had hemhorraghed seriously and was in a coma. Eight days later, she passed away. We were all devestated...some of us had successfully given birth already (my son was a year old), but some were still pregnant and terrified.

As a group, we tried to think of things we could do for her husband and family. We decided to hold a "memorial service" for her online, in a chatroom. We figured we could get about 50 women to show up. I knew that some of the women were "crafty" (not me) and came up with the idea of each woman creating a piece of artwork in a 6x6 square that the crafty women could turn into quilt pieces. Then, they would assemble all the squares and we'd send the quilt to Heather's daughter.

I remembered that Max Gomez had interviewed Heather and thought he would want to know that she had passed away. He was shocked and saddened when I called with the news. Then, I told him about what we were going to do for her daughter. In 1996, online relationships were not as common as they are today. I knew that what we were planning was pretty amazing...50 women coming together to support the family of a person they had never met.

He asked if he and a camera crew could come to my house and film the online memorial as it took place. Since he was going to interview Heather's husband a few days later, I offered to send along a few of Lucas' things that he had outgrown. The news piece aired and CNN even did a short segment on it.

As with most of my stories, this one has an amazing ending. Heather's husband called to thank me and stayed in touch via email. When he received the completed quilt, he sent pictures of his little girl hugging it. He became very involved with a national infertility group and, when I last heard from him, had married the woman who heads the organization. His little girl had lost her mother, but gained a new blended family with a stepmom and three siblings who love her.

What's that saying about doors and windows?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bizarro World

Many thanks to blogfriend April for directing me to this.

I love Jon Stewart.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder...and the Belly Larger

From the Chicago Tribune:

"Palin addressed teen pregnancy prevention in her 2006 run for governor, indicating on a questionnaire that she favored abstinence-until-marriage education over explicit sex education programs, school-based clinics and condom distribution in schools. The high school that Bristol Palin attended for part of last year, Wasilla High School, teaches abstinence in health class, its principal said."

I think all of this is just the tip of the Alaskan iceberg, and I can't wait for the rest of it to surface. McCain is a maverick, alright. And this should be a good indication of how he goes about making incredibly important decisions. He would have been better off throwing a dart.

I'm totally enjoying the conservative spin on all of this... "It happens in all families" (yes, I heard a delegate say that), "How wonderful that she's not having an abortion!" (and isn't it great that she has a CHOICE in that matter, people??). I've yet to hear the rationalization for this mother of 5 holding down a more-than-fulltime job and letting "strangers" raise her kids. I've spent enough time on various mommy-message-boards and took a shellacking for being the working mother of 2, having holier-than-thous asking me why I "bothered having children" if I wasn't going to raise them myself, etc. Now it seems that St. Sarah of Palin somehow escapes those judgments?

Anyone know how old the father of Bristol's baby is? Wouldn't it be just the best if he's 30? And how appropriate that the daughter of this modern-day Annie Oakley is having a shotgun wedding!

Hey look... I don't care who gets knocked up and whether they keep their baby or enter into wedded juvenile bliss. What I care about is this off-the-wall, impulsive choice-- a person who could EASILY wind up running this country if (god forbid) McCain wins this election and chokes on a chicken bone. (see? I didn't even make an old-man joke)

My sister had a great theory... maybe he really doesn't want to be President after all, and purposely sabotaged the campaign? Stranger things have happened...