Thursday, June 29, 2006

Is this sick or what?

Heard a story on the local news the other day about a boy who just graduated from High School, NEVER having missed a day of school since kindergarten. This Cal Ripkin of Education boasted that he even went to school with the flu and it "wasn't that bad."
His mother was lauded for stuffing him onto to the school bus every day, viruses be damned! I don't know about you, but I don't want people sending their sick kids to school just to prove a point or achieve an attendance record.

Off he goes to Yale, where I would suggest everyone get a jump on their flu vaccines.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Panthergirl's Pick of the Week: Born Into Brothels

Inspiring documentary about the children of prostitutes in Calcutta. The talents and insights of these kids will amaze you, sadden you, but make you hope that somehow having their plight brought to the attention of the filmgoing world can change things, even for just one child. Don't miss it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


My friend Kathy and me, summer of 1960. (Please note: The pose was my mother's idea. I think she wanted us to look like a couple of Vargas girls. At five.)

I lived on a narrow side street in Brooklyn, very close to the corner of an extremely busy multi-lane thoroughfare. Because the Long Island Railroad ran under that big street, living in our house was very much like living under the Cyclone (ala Alvy Singer in "Annie Hall"). Every time the train would pass, all of the dishes and crystal in our china cabinet would rattle and chime like a gaudy symphony. We were so used to it that we'd giggle at the terrified look on a visitor's face when it happened.

Living so close to this busy street meant that almost nightly we'd hear the blaring horns, the screech of brakes and the shattering of glass that signaled yet another car crash. Everyone on the block (adults and children alike) would run outside to see what happened, like an urban night of NASCAR. The images are burned into my brain.. mangled fenders, a streak of blood, even the sight of a woman's knee with a hole scooped out after it slammed into her dashboard ignition key on impact.

One night, not too long after this picture was taken, I heard the telltale sounds of screeching and shattering, horns blaring, and ran outside as always. But this time, I was the first and only one. As I stood there, frozen, I spotted a little boy about my age who looked through me as he wandered in a daze among the steaming wreckage. Behind him a man was clawing his way along the ground and, as I watched, he stopped, collapsed, and died.

It felt like an eternity before others arrived, before the police cars screamed up, before my father took his place along the curb with the rest of the onlookers. What I remember most, though, was the inscription on the door of the car that ejected that doomed passenger: "Johnny Baby's Car Service. Ride with Safety."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Back in the E-E-E-R....

The Blog Gods must know how much I love this little cartoon, because I had another one of these nights last night. This time my poor little boy had to call 911 for me, and he was amazing. I couldn't speak and he told them everything they needed to know. My neighbor came to stay with him while the ambulance took me to the my pj's and a pair of shoes. I couldn't talk, but I still wanted to get some clothes on (a bra maybe? a little lipstick? A girl has her pride. Even when she feels like she's being crushed by a steamroller).

The medic was a human being this time, as opposed to the previous tale. However the late night nurses were braindead. (Sorry nurses. You know I usually LOVE the night staff as detailed in the funniest hospital story EVER, here.)

My lovely neighbor stayed with Lucas and Kelso until 1:30AM when her husband drove to the hospital to pick me up. Poor Luke was so worried (as was I) that I would miss his "moving up ceremony" (end of 5th grade) today, but I made it. Feeling better, laying low, and learning from this second mistake that when I've got a cold and a cough that doesn't go away for two weeks...I need to see the freakin' doctor. Who has time? Not me, but I have to *make* the time. This stuff is too scary and dangerous.

So proud of my boy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tiny Voices in My Head!

GO VISIT DAWN, MY TENANT IN THE SIDEBAR!! Dawn is, as we say in Brooklyn, a "pisser". She's a wild woman who lives with her husband and cats in (her words) the middle of buttfuck nowhere. She frequently goes out with her equally cool mom and posts about their crazy escapades. Love her. And thanks to everyone else who made bids...wish I could put all of you there!

Show 'em Who's Boss!

Sorry for the rerun, but it's a crazy week...


I have a love/hate relationship with horses. I love THEM, they hate ME. We didn't have a lot of first-hand contact with horses in Brookyn (except for this one who was used as a prop for a photographer outside the local Thom McAnn shoe store), but I did have an uncle who lived in the country who had a few horses that we were completely crazy about.

In the city, my sisters and I would pretend to gallop up and down the block, whipping our butts and yelling "Yah! Yah!" The '60s was a big decade for television Westerns and I watched every one of them, falling in love with the lead cowboy in each show. Bronco, Sugarfoot, Maverick... I was going to marry all of them.

When I was about 14, my friends and I decided to go horseback riding at a stable near a park in Queens. "Dixie Dew" had quite the selection of nags, er...steeds. We would go out weekly, with the trail instructor screaming "Show 'em who's boss!!"

I was usually terrified, and apparently this fear is something these animals can feel or smell or something. One week, a horse brought me under low branches so I arrived home with a scraped up face. Another time, he walked into a deep pool of water, stirrup-high, and refused to move. The trail crossed a pretty busy highway, so of course another horse I rode decided to stop dead in the middle while drivers in both directions were forced to wait. (the car horn was invented in New York, so we like to use it as often as possible. That day was no exception.) Every week my mother would ask me WHY I kept going back, when it seemed like one disaster after another. I sort of agreed, but I was still determined to show at least one of these horses who was boss.

Finally, we went back and everything seemed to be going along just fine. My friend Andrea and I were riding side by side, clopping along like a couple of seasoned cowpokes. Suddenly, her horse began to do "the bump' with my horse. He swung his big fat hips right into my guy, and mine returned the favor. Andrea began to scream. The trail instructor calmly told her to please stop screaming because...Too late. At that point, my horse took off, galloping at full speed blindly through the woods. Off the trail. I lost the stirrups and was hanging on for dear life, arms wrapped around his neck. My body slid forward and I dropped to the ground in front of him. I looked up and saw his hooves as he stepped on my legs. (I had the presence of mind to think "wow...this is just like those stampedes on "Wagon Train'!)

Before I could get up, the horse stopped and turned around, apparently determined to run me over again. ("I get it! You're the boss! Alright already!", I thought.) In the meantime, the instructor had found me, grabbed the horse and hoisted me and my balloon (formerly known as a leg) onto his back. My injuries were limited to contusions in my calf and the unpleasant task of saying 'You were right." to my mother.

I don't ride horses anymore, but I still love them. And Andrea is still my friend.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Happy Father's Day

Enjoy your dads, enjoy your children. It's a tough day for my son, but hopefully images like this will stay with him forever.

OH, and for the sake of your kids... DON'T SMOKE

Please go and visit some of my favorite Daddy Bloggers:
Metro Dad

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Dinner for 4 at Del Frisco's: $700
Dinner for 5 at Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare: $1300
Dinner for 5 at Charlie Palmer's: $2200

Winning $500 in the Wheel of Fortune slot machine? Priceless.

And of course, how can you go wrong when traveling with THESE guys?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Photo Friday: Automotive

My "little" girl, when she was so proud to be driving her own car. I, in turn, are so proud of her for taking such good care of her brother this week while I was in Vegas. She's showing a maturity I haven't seen before...and it warms my heart. Can't believe she'll be turning 21 this summer!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Love Letter to My Dog



is not THIS:

You owe me $300.


OK, kids...I'm outta here. Not taking the laptop so I won't be able to post until Friday. Do me a favor and type any word into the search field for this blog and see what you get, ok? Lemme know how you did. Back on Friday!

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

On Monday, I will be leaving for Vegas for the week... to go here. Now, I wouldn't spend my own money to go there, but an all expenses paid business trip with four guys from my office who are a lot of fun...that I can't turn down. Our only regret is that our former boss, whom I love dearly, has retired and can't join us. Thankfully my new boss, whom I *don't* love dearly, is NOT joining us!

I'll probably post once more this weekend, but mostly I'll be busy packing, taking Lucas to a chess tournament tomorrow, and getting all the "rules and regulations" written up for Emma who is going to come take care of him. Kelso is off for a week's "vacation" with a couple who boards him for me. He likes their house better than mine anyway, because they have a big fenced yard for him to run around.

I won't leave you high and dry, though.... I'll post reruns throughout the week. I'll have my laptop and although I probably won't have time to write new stuff, I'll definitely keep you entertained with archival stuff.

So..... any suggestions for my trip? It's brutally hot out there, but everyone says the casinos are FREEZING. I'm not quite sure how to dress. We're going to see "O" on Wednesday night (one of the Cirque shows) but other than that, we'll be free-wheeling it.

Oh, and I've updated and changed some of my "100 Factoids", so if you're really bored check those out!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ann Coulter? Hitler called. He wants his conscience back.

Isn't she just the BEST poster child for "family values"? Because she is an attention whore, and clearly when you're selling a book there is no bad publicity, I was reluctant to write about her here. But my concern is that some people may not have seen or read excerpts from her latest diatribe. This time, her target is a group of 9/11 widows from New Jersey:

"These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them."

"They believed the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony."

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

and my personal favorite:

"How do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."

What the hell would that (divorce) have to do with anything? I was divorced from my son's father when he died. My heart was broken...because someone I had once loved had passed away as I held his hand, and because MY 8 YEAR OLD CHILD had lost his dad.

So much of what she says about these women could be pointed right back at her. Self-obsessed? Millionaires? Reveling in their status as celebrities? Hurry up and appear in Playboy? I guarantee that if this woman looked like Janet Reno the conservatives would not be using her as their hood ornament of the month.

When my son and I attended a bereavement group, four women in that group were 9/11 widows. I guarantee you, none of them were celebrating their family's loss. They were dealing with intense grief, anger, confusion, all while having to help their children cope with this horrific tragedy.

Maybe Ann Coulter ought to watch Loose Change. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but there are questions raised in that film that even SHE could not matter how much Kool-Aid she's had.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Eau d' Humanity

Kids stink. Not babies. Babies smell great...powdery fresh and brand new. But no one quite prepares you for what happens about eleven years later. All of a sudden, your child emerges from the shower and you find yourself saying, "Uh, did you use soap? Did you use WATER??" It's like they work up a sweat going from the shower stall to the towel rack. And that sweat is SMELLY.

It's not just adolescent boys, either. My daughter was just as bad. And for whatever reason, they don't smell it. She'd get absolutely indignant with me when I would gently suggest that she needed to shower more often or more thoroughly. I was trying to be sensitive, although talking while holding one's breath is NOT easy.

I'll never forget going to see a guidance counselor at her Middle School one day, while he was monitoring detention. I walked into the cafeteria after school hours and was nearly knocked over by the odor. It was intense! I asked him how he managed to sit through it, even for an hour, and he said he had become completely immune. Immune? It was like walking into a room full of tear gas.

Now my little boy, heading to Middle School in the Fall, has joined the ranks of the rank. As for me, I'm preparing well in advance for that first parent-teacher meeting on campus:

If no one gets my Hindenburg reference in the title of this post, I will be very sad. I thought it was brilliant. ;)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Panthergirl's Funniest Home Video

I've been converting all my analog videos to digital, and in the process have been saving some good clips to QuickTime. This is one of my favorite clips of all time... my daughter Emma playing with my then-husband's kooky Uncle Ray on a frozen pond in the Catskills. Look out, Emma!!

A Favorite Viral Video

If you haven't seen The JCB Song video, please take a moment to watch it (and stay for the end credits). In the true spirit of "viral video", it is infectious and you should pass it along. ;)

Lucas and I just watched it together. Poignant for us, since he greatly misses his dad...and because the little boy in the film's name is Luke too.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Panthergirl's Pick of the Week: Murderball

Much more than a "sports documentary", Murderball chronicles not just the intense rivalry between the quadraplegic rugby teams of the USA and Canada, but also the personal backstories of the players and one coach. This is not a "oh, those poor crippled boys" story. It is funny, sad, inspirational, infuriating, thrilling, poignant and mesmerizing. And the soundtrack is great, too.

My secondary pick of the week is Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. While the country was focused Taylor Hicks winning American Idol, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted of the crimes they committed...and if you think only Enron employees were affected, pop in this DVD ASAP. Having seen this film a few months ago, I'd been keeping a close eye on the proceedings and couldn't have been happier about the outcome. Too litle, too late, I'm afraid.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Photo Friday: New

It doesn't get much newer than this. Emma was 9 when Lucas was born, and she was in attendance for most of my labor. I had a drug-free birth with both of my kids, and although my labor with Emma was very peaceful and calm, it got a little more intense with Lucas. It was a short labor, but WAY tougher. When things got a little crazy towards the end, my sister took Emma out of the room and they waited until immediately after his birth, when she was able to give him his first bath.

She has mixed feelings about being present during the more difficult moments of my labor, but the one very positive result is that I never had to worry about her being a teenaged parent! And ultimately she was very, very happy to be such an intimate part of her brother's arrival into the world.

I have taught childbirth classes and done professional labor support...probably the most meaningful work I've ever done in my life. Although I made this decision to have Emma present for Lucas' birth, I don't think it's a decision I would make again or even recommend. While I think it was beneficial in many ways, I also know that if something bad had happened to the baby, and my 9 year old had witnessed that, it would have done irreparable damage to her psyche. I didn't realize it at the time, but that's probably not a risk worth taking.