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Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Time takes a cigarette,
puts it in your mouth, pull on a finger,
then another finger, then your cigarette..."
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust



What will the gods sniff if we can't put something in our pipe and smoke it?

As of Jan. 1 a new policy at The Reporter, as well as all Gannett-owned businesses, to my knowledge, prohibits employees from smoking anywhere outside the building.

They can't drive away on their 15 minute breaks twice a day to light one up because that is considered company time. Neither can they smoke in their cars, behind a bush, peering from a manhole or crouching in a dumpster, hands cupped over a matchbox (which may well be the case if I know newspaper people like I think I do).

Correct me if I'm wrong. I thought tobacco was legal?

No wonder hobbits can no longer be found this side of Middle Earth.

I'm taking a politically incorrect stand here, and man, does it feel good.

I love the smell of tobacco smoke.

Managing editor Mike Mentzer was waxing nostalgic last night, recreating the days when the newsroom could only be seen through one big cloud of blue smoke.

"The page one editor had one cigarette going in the ashtray and one in his mouth, the ash about 4 inches long," Mentzer related.

Ah, the smell of cigarettes, pipes, a good cigar, the inside of a sweat lodge as the peace pipe is passed around....... the way the wisps of smoke curl through the air like fairy lace... the social nature of a good smoke, the way it clears the mind and calms the nerves.



I grow misty-eyed watching the old black and white movie stars lighting up everywhere and anywhere. Last night, I can't recall the flick, a doctor offered his patient a cig and they both lit up in his office. LOL

Please spare me all the bad things about smoking...that's not my point. We all know what can kill us in excess (INXS!)....fast cars, MOTORCYCLES, crossing the 151 bypass, plastic wrap, deodorant (which one oncologist told me he thought to be the leading cause of breast cancer), cake (the number one culprit - that lust-filled brown-eyed Susan cake from Everix Bakery), Joe's Fox Hut Pizza (and what a way to go), eating any fish but lets' pick on sturgeon, hair spray, wood-burning stoves, the sun's rays, the chemicals in new carpeting, listening to Barry Manilow or watching Regis & Kelly, hair dye, etc., etc., etc.,

In his 1993 book "Cigarettes are Sublime" Richard Klein, a Cornell University French professor, attacks what he calls this country's current craze of "violent antitabagism."


"Healthism in America has sought to make longevity the principal measure of a good life," he writes. "To be a survivor is to acquire moral distinction. But another view, a dandy's perhaps, would say that living, as distinct from surviving, acquires its value from risks and sacrifices that tend to shorten life and hasten dying."

I don't smoke at work, but I confess to a quirky habit: I have two cigarettes after 9 p.m., usually every day. It was my compromise, years ago, with quitting...which seemed to me such "giving in to the man."

Goodbye to the days you could enjoy a good smoke as one of life's simple pleasures.

I just hope Santa doesn't have a nic fit while driving his sleigh.

Friday, December 29, 2006


People, how could I resist.??????????

The Rust List, which is the biggest Neil Young Internet community with a cast of thousands, invited "Rusties" to pose a New Year's Resolution for Neil.

How, tell me how to just keep quiet, not be a fool for the man. "Stop acting 14," I tell myself.

Alas, it's a hopeless cause. Roll your eyes all you want, I can't see you!

Re:1a. Re: New Years resolutions for Neil

Neil, who has been wondering about his soul mate in the back of his mind for some 40 years now....

you know the one....the girl he dreams about but has never met...

the girl he sings all the songs about but could not find ... so he settled for Pegi... (aka Peg-eye)...
not saying she ain't nice, but there's still this girl stuck in Neil's head... wild and freaky hair, blue eyes, slightly overweight, one discolored tooth in the front, spills things daily...the image is stuck in his head...

One night he's playing Milwaukee, a warm summer night on Lake Michigan...

There's a full moon, a soft breeze coming off the lake, it's one of his favorite spots....

He's always energized in Milwaukee, feels these wild, crazy vibes but doesn't know why...

Suddenly he sees a face in the audience, a face he never saw before because she never had front row seats before... but this time she does.....

His fingers freeze about the strings and for a brief second lightning courses through him...

His breath won't come, his eyes are locked on the face....

of

the

girl

from

his

dreams...............

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I was looking at that you have-to-hand-wash me sweater in the sink full of cold water today and I didn't even curse its need for indulgence (Although I can never squeeze enough water out of the damn thing and it takes about seven weeks to dry and every time I glance at it I wish I had my mother's old wringer washer with which she had us kids convinced we would lose one of our arms just by living under the same roof with it).

Winter brings out all the tactile pleasures, doesn't it?

Soft sweaters, the hairy kind.
Kid-skin (sorry Lee! I know, geez that is so bad) gloves.
Mukluks (My kids will not know this word).
The warming house at the ice-rink, throw in some hot chocolate and the way it feels going down although I know you are thinking that's taste but it's not.
Strawberry cream lotion on dried-out -half-a-century -old skin.
Smoothing that well-packed snowball.
Opening a card lined in gold foil.
Burying your head in a pillow filled with goose feathers, about 4 p.m.
Scratching your name on a frost-covered window.
Holding a very old hand, skin paper thin.
Sinking into a steaming bubble bath.
Mint chapstick.
Lips on a crystal champagne glass.
Rubbing your bleary eyes at 6 a.m., not yet ready to focus on a new day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

As I write this mosquitoes buzz around my head, mid-winter.Flood waters breed strange bedfellows for Christmas Eve.

I promise this is the last of my indulgences in a rare and out-of-nowhere poetry binge.

Maybe it came from needing to laugh during a season that can turn on you at a moment's notice.

It is for my Jewish friends that I share the work of Hal Sirowitz, who wrote a book of poems about his mother entitled "Mother Said."

Turns out it's about my mother too, although she wouldn't have thought so.

She swore that dragonflies would sew your eyes shut, bats would nest in your hair and wearing underwear to bed would make you sick.

This book makes a great gift for moms who can laugh at themselves.

Chopped-Off Arm

Don't stick your arm out of the window, Mother said.
Another car can sneak upbehind us, & chop it off.
Then your father will have to stop,
stick the severed piece in the trunk, & drive you to the hospital.
It's not like the parts of your telescope that snap back on.
A doctor will have to sew it.
You won't be able to wear short sleeves.
You won't want anyone to see the stitches.

Damaged Body
Don't swim in the ocean while it's raining, Mother said.
Lighning can hit the water, & you'll be paralyzed.
You don't like to eat vegetables. Imagine having to spend the rest of your life being one
Someone will have to wash you, take you to the bathroom, & feed you.
Children will tease you.
But you may be lucky, & get struck by only a small voltage.
Then you'll be a smart vegetable, like aspargas.
You'll be able to make your bed by yourself -which you don't do now - but people will feel too sorry for you to talk to you.
You may think it'll be fun to vegetate around the house all day. But every time you'll think about yourself, like wouldn't it be nice to eat a chocolate ice cream cone,
the thought will flicker,
& then go out.
;-D

Saturday, December 23, 2006

God to Noah:

"I want you to build an Ark..... and when you get that done go out into the world and collect all of the animals in the world by twos, male and female, and put them into the ark."

Noah:

"Right!

"Who is this really?"

Bill Cosby's classic Noah/God schtick

Two days of rain in Fond du Lac created a river in my back yard big enough for me to joke with a friend while on the phone "bring me a boat."

Never mock mother nature when she is in a bad mood.

No sooner had I said those words when I heard a rushing of water, like someone was running a bath.

Should I make a long story short for you, to spare you the horror, or, depending how you feel about me, loud guffaws?

There I was, standing in my basement, armed with a mop and several buckets to catch the water pouring out around a filled-to-the-brim and swelling window well, when, as if in slow motion like a movie, the double window bubbled like a concave lens, then burst.

Mixed with shattered glass spraying in a million pieces was, of course, the river, muddy and rushing with pent-up-relief around me as I ran for higher ground, following the cat who was setting world speed records.

The rest of the story is all detail: summoning the Cavalry; "I'M FREAKING OUT" screamed at five minute intervals throughout the day; watching some guy crotch deep in the freezing river trying to unclog a dam of debri; sucking sounds of hoses; the blast of industrial fans; wondering if the liquor store delivers; drying shoes in the oven (yum, what's cooking, rubber mixed with old feet??) and thinking it would be a good time for an aneurism, right about now and why can't Hugh Laurie be a real doctor?

It's the next day and hell, I'm going Christmas shopping for some hip-waders.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Does anyone know how to shut a cat up?

Funny, real funny. I can't do that.

Because of Colleen and the de-manning of cows debauchle and Jared and his hunting of Bambi I'm sure PETA regularly checks all of our Reporter blogs.

Seriously, my 13-year-old cat

never

shuts

up.

Every stinking one of his waking moments is spent caterwauling, in the real sense of the word.

It's not a nice "meow." That I wouldn't mind.

Quasar "YOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWLS" on the top of his lungs, incessantly, which sometimes isn't loud enough for his own pleasure so he goes in the basement where it echoes and really belts it out.

He's no slouch in the cat world. He hails from a breed called Birman or Sacred Cat of Burma, named Quasar because each birth-year for registered Birmans is assigned a letter of the alphabet. 1993 was "Q."

One year he was awarded the prestigious grand champion win at the Fond du Lac County fair, and thankfully, unlike other grand champions, this was not followed by slaughtering him and entering him in a carcass show.

In retrospect...............


I hate to yell at Quasar because he has such a "Heart of Gold" but I'd finally had enough at 5 a.m. this morning when he was bemoaning some cat fact on the top of his lungs outside my bedroom, emphasizing his point by slipping little paws underneath the crack in the door and pounding his head against it.

(Please don't even suggest I sleep with him. He's also an incessant licker, his raspy little tongue a weapon on the defenseless lips and eyelids of those lost in dreamland)

I leaped out of bed, threw open the door like a banshee*, clapping my hands and hissing through my teeth "Shut up, shut up, shut up!"

You guessed it. Bad karma happened and I tripped and fell, sprawled in the pre-dawn hour across the living room floor.

Thankfully, I did not crack my head open, but for a minute I did hear a host of t.s. elliot's literary felines laughing their asses off.


Cesar, I'm begging you, can't you whisper cats too?




* Banshee: Afemale spirit in Gaelic folklore whose wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die
I attended the first, of which many, I'm sure, will follow, 50th birthday party for one of my friends.

Sally and I are soul twins and believe this story:

When God said, "No it's not time yet, don't do it," we thumbed our noses at him, held hands and jumped...into the wrong bodies at the wrong time in the wrong universe.

There's some comfort in this realization, knowing we are strangers in a strange land together.

Rebellion, we learned, gets you somewhere, but will you know where when you get there?

There was much discomfort, however, in realizing how my friends are defining each other at this stage in life:

By physical appearance and the success of their children.

Ease drop on their conversations when asked how so-and-so is doing these days.

"You should see Patty, still a girlish figure. She hasn't gained a pound, weighs what she did in high school......"

"Joe, he's completely bald, and fat, my God, he can hardly walk...."

"Her son will be making $80,000 grand a year. Tall, and so handsome, Yale scholarship...."

"All their children are above average and travel the world...."

"Still smokes like a chimney. They put in a pacemaker you know...."

"All new carpeting, a jacuzzi, it's worth about $80 grand..."

I wanted to say these aren't the things I want to know about my old friends, but remembered this:

"Feasting in mid-winter promotes friendship and strengthens the family if like the sage you can be tolerant enough to let others just be themselves with nothing said." --(Taoist) Lao Fzu

But I was thinking this:


The Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (seriously)

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Carl Sandburg almost ruined poetry for me for life.

Sorry Carl, you are probably a nice guy, but I still shudder at the thought of being in fourth grade, where each week a poetry radio show was piped in through the public address system.

If you've never heard Carl Sandburg read his poetry, consider yourself lucky.
It was like listening to Eeyore on valium, like Satan heavily sedated.
To a fourth grader, it felt like this show went on for hours, days, decades in which only people with voices deep enough to sing "Rawhide" exist.

I ask teachers if kids today actually read poetry, because mine don't.

"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg ruined it for my son., which I thought odd. Remember, he's the free spirit living a hippie-like lifestyle in Oregon, though I'd like to add a disclaimer: He is in no way one of those "fake, trendy, yuppie-hippies" that seem to cluster in the Pacific Northwest. You can tell them by their Birckenstocks, he points out, versus the Dollar Store tennies wrapped in duct tape.

"What a whiner," he said of Ginsberg on the phone the other night.

This all leads me to the delight I felt listening to Billy Collins read his poetry on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home companion this week.

Being an iconoclast nothing much makes me laugh out loud.

But Billy does.


The Revenant by Billy Collins

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you--not one bit.
When I licked your face, I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.
I resented the way you moved, your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.
I would have run away, but I was too weak,
a trick you taught me while I was learning to sit and heel,
and--greatest of insults--shake hands without a hand.
I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.
You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car,
the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.
The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you was food
and fresh water in my metal bowls.
While you slept,
I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all my strength not to raise my head and howl.
Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat,
monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place
except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner--
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry,
the cats and the others in prose.


If you recall Maynard G. Krebs from Dobie Gilles you all should be snapping your fingers right about now. ;-D

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I know I've been lax in blogging.

This was the week, that besides work, I had to, let's just say in case there are little eyes peering this way, get some stuff together to ship out to the Pacfic Northwest, where it seems, for some inexplicable reason, most of my remaining family have moved.

There's been a definite westward trend, like pioneers, or cowboys, although we all hate country music, so I just don't get it.

When my grandmother got off the boat at Ellis Island she first worked in Pennsylvania as a maid and cook.

Little generational footsteps walking across America.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow.

Meanwhile do get these in your email?

"The old man was glad to have his opinion sustained, and by a local home with the potatomasher or the rolling pin, but when duty called along the trail, they often changed their complexion entirely when Mrs. Her followed, even though it involved the using of unfamiliar cockroaches, primitive - through of fear and horror that day - and I tried phenomenon to life-like quiet of marriage, those cone-shaped ceremonies. Maggie let in the clear light of conscience on them, for even she wrote a lengthy letter to Robert Grant, care of The Imperial and the assembled members expenditure of the tribe and reassured her as best I might; prehistoric stimulus but even to me the future looked on and listened in an artificial a sort of way.

Spam jibberish?

Or pure genius?

I leave it to you.

I think it may be the new poetry of our age.

Move over Jack Keroac, P. Diddy Puff Daddy - here come the new voices of our time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Who

hung


the wind


chimes??????????????


My pristine bedroom view of a hedgerow complete with owl's nest, and beyond, a farmer's field, has been disturbed by a most hideous site.

A reindeer made of white wire that lights up at night, but only about half of it lights up, adorned with a day-glow red velvet bow, big and flapping in the breeze.

If I were a creature of the wild I would be running like hell right now.

Enhancing this Onion-esque still life, with wired deer and a satellite dish on a lop-sided pole and some bird feeders that remain birdless because of the deer on ecstasy, is a set of wind chimes.

You have no idea what this sound does to a woman approaching 50.

Nails

on

a

chalkboard.

If you see me these days, have mercy.
It's the damn chimes......

Friday, December 08, 2006

If you are like me and all stressed out about Christmas and shopping but haven't even started yet so you are just stressed out from thinking about it relax and take a break by visiting this cool blog called:

Mighty Goods.

http://mightygoods.com/


It's a shopping blog that’s updated five days a week and the bloggers themselves spend time finding and posting things they love, things they've found so you don't have to out there in cyber-space shopping land.

This isn't a plug or anything, I just like to look.

According to Mighty Goods:

"These aren't just any old things, these are exactly the right things. They will brighten your eyes, match you couch, and fix the annoying problem that's been bothering you."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I'm not going to miss the next "Summer of Love."

According to San Francisco's Union-Tribune it's time to "break out the incense and bell-bottoms and get ready to wear some flowers in your hair..."

A free, daylong Summer of Love 40th anniversary festival is being planned for Sept. 2, 2007 at SpeedwayMeadows in Golden Gate Park.

I hope to have gathered a busload of Fondy residents by then, and preferably a VW Bus with flowers painted on the side, to take the cross-country trek.

Of course I find out info like this because the promoters' list of potential acts include Neil Young.

For those of you who weren't born yet The Summer of Love refers to the summer of 1967, and particularly to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco where thousands of young people from all over the world "loosely and freely united for a new social experience.," according to Wikepedia.

I can tell you this wasn't the case here in Wisconsin in 1967. I was ten years old. It was a couple years before any monumental change hit, and boy, did it ever. In the school year of 1969-70 girls were first allowed to wear pants to school. It was like "Girls Gone Wild."

The beginning of the Summer of Love has been attributed to the Human Be-In held at Golden Gate Park on Jan. 14 of that year.
John Phillips of the Mamas Papasapas wrote the following lyrics for the song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)."
"If you're going to San Francisco,
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...
If you come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there."

The song was designed originally to promote the June, 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, the world's first major rock concert, which was attended by over 200,000 people.

So let me know if you want to sign up.

I'm sure worried they don't make bell-bottoms in my size...;-D.






Monday, December 04, 2006


My dear sister,

Obviously you are not honoring our poor, dead mother's wishes by revisiting the Jerry Lewis telethon episode, are you?

I did speak with David Canary, who, after his stint on "Bonanza" as "Candy," the hired hand, has starred for years on the soap opera "All My Children," in fact playing dual roles magnificently as twin brothers Adam and Stewart Chandler.

I think you were the one crying because you didn't get to talk to him.

As for Mr. Rogers, licking water out of a bowl like a cat, while that may be true, mother and I were just trying to wean you off the guy. We said, Diane, you are in high school now, it's time to expand your horizons.

I loved that man. When my kids were little we watched it twice a day, my toe-haired son screaming "ROGERS IS ON, ROGERS IS ON!"

So from now on please practice what we were taught, beginning at a young age.

'What goes on in this house, stays in this house, you hear me?"

Friday, December 01, 2006


I'm a recovering crier.
It has been months since I cried but this week I spent some time at work crying in the bathroom.
A former co-worker whom I won't mention named Lee Reinsch taught me that trick. If all else fails, head to the bathroom.
It's preferable to crying at your desk, which confuses and embarrasses people (much like the dog-nosed woman at Halloween in Wal-Mart), especially the guys and there is nothing worse then showing your weakness and crying in the business world.

The problem is it's our main women's bathroom, the one with the magazines in it, the good hand lotion and a window.
(Only you, and you know who you are, would take that the wrong way).

I used to cry buckets all the time but with age comes a kind of not-giving-so-much-of-a-rat's-you-know-what anymore.

So prior to my hardening heart and my kids exclaiming "she's crying again!" name a place. I've probably cried there.

Despite the usual life, death, birth situations some bizarre major crying jags of epic proportions:

When my younger sister scared me while I was playing the play-by-number electric organ, which she has never let me forget.
Neil Young concert, weeping like someone who needs to be medically sedated.
Cried through the entire wedding of my older sister, my face swelled and distorted in the family photos.
Most television shows, movies and commercials. At the end of "Shenandoah," my father made me leave the room. "What's wrong with you?" he said. "Are you smoking marijuana?"
When Lassie comes home.
The day Mr. Rogers died. The country should have shut down.
"The eagles are coming, the eagles are coming..." reaching that point in Tolkien's trilogy. I was reading to my kids and I had to put the book down and leave the room.

Now, of course, I resort to other emotional outlets.

Colleen, when is that cheesecake getting here?

I got an e-mail this week from Chuck Quirmbach, Mr. deep voice perfect annunciator extraordinaire at Wisconsin and National Public radio.

He's in my bedroom every morning, his alluring voice wakes me at 6 a.m.

Last week his news clip for NPR highlighted midnight at a huge outlet mall near the Wisconsin/Illinois border as shoppers screamed their way into bargain hell on Black Friday.

I had to chuckle.

Despite the baritone resonance he is Chuck Quirmbach, another memory from grade school, short, red hair, freckles. I can't get that picture of him out of my mind, because of course, I never see him.

That's the magic intimacy of radio. My mother's long affair listening to Gordon Hinkley and "Ask Your Neighbor," a housewife's staple that lasted for decades (I've seen Gordon is still alive and doing Church & Chapel T.V. commercials -LOL); hot summer nights long ago, transistor held to the ear way past bedtime listening to WOKY and Wolfman Jack's top 40; Tuning in as a teen to Bleeker Street coming from an underground station in Little Rock Arkansas; sitting in the parking lot as a young adult with hundreds of fans as Milwaukee's WZMF radio with a then much younger and pretty hot Bob Reitman goes off the air (I still have an unused bumper sticker).

Nick Carter of the Journal Sentinel staff wrote: March 23, 1979: For many local radio listeners, it was the day the spirit of rock radio died. It was on that date that WZMF-FM, a 3,000-watt radio station, went off the air for good, saying farewell with Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," followed by static.

Freddie Mercury, bless your soul, you were right.

"Radio...Someone who loves you."

Thursday, November 30, 2006


My hairdresser and I think that more suicides occur during the holiday season because of the bombardment, like the Chinese torture of dripping water on your forehead, of the same old Christmas music.


Over

and

over

again

world


without


end.



(Please, isn't it blood-curdling scream time yet? Oh yeah, that was Wednesday but I didn't. You would have been proud of me).

Before you start calling be Ebeneezer I don't mind it in the approriate setting: church on Christmas Eve, coming from the mouths of carolers at the mall, while trimming the tree, at the proverbial yuletide party.


Not at the grocery store or the aisles at Wal-Mart, not in the chair at the beauty parlor or helpless, under the dentist's drill, not blasting through the phone as you are put on hold by the Fond du Lac School District, or AT & T or Charter Cable or any other buyer into Muzak or Sunny 97s cheerful but Stepford parade of holiday favorites.

I do realize I am not worthy of Johnny Mathis' "Oh Holy Night" (shivers) or Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" (sniffle) but damn, it if I am put on hold and have to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks or Felice Navidad one more time.........

Monday, November 27, 2006

Speaking of banned books in the newsroom we've had the words "tis the season" banned from our stories.

Rumor has it those three words are trite and overused...............

I suppose.

What does it mean anyway? "Tis the season" for what?

For me it's the nerve-wracking perpetuation of gender stereotypes.

Take a gander at the J.C. Penney's catalog under children's bedroom sets. My stomach turns.

For girls its pink with princesses and little sparkly crowns.

For boys it's tanks and helicopters that glow in the dark!

How far have we really come in changing the way young girls perceive themselves and want to present themselves to the world.

No wonder there aren't more women stepping up to fill positions that reflect leadership and power.

If things had really changed, little girls would want to be queens, not princesses who follow the latest trends and wait for a knight in shining armor to define them.

I look around and shake my head at the image so many women continue to portray. There's nothing wrong with pretty, I love looking at beautiful people of any gender, but physical image seems to reside over all the groundwork that's been laid ever since the fight for voting rights and birth control.

So many women's issues are still in the hands of everyone else but us.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We've received hundreds of comments from around the world on the story about a mother, father and student requesting a book be removed from the sophomore advanced English reading curriculum at Fond du Lac High School.

"I know why the Caged Bird Sings," is Maya Angelou's autobiographical account and includes passages about being raped and her subsequent unwanted pregnancy.

It made me think about how books and authors influenced my thinking, my beliefs, my values during formative years.

In the 70s we rarely read alone. With much enthusiasm and conversation we shared our story finds with friends as if we were the first to stumble upon some buried treasure.

Knowing that there were people - in the form of characters - out there that felt as confused and lost as us, people who actually talked about these feelings, gave us all hope.

Some highlights:

Carlos Casteneda and his series of books about his relationship (real or imagined) with a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan. It pretty much blew our minds.

Kurt Vonnegut: "Slaughterhouse Five," "Cat's Cradle," "Breakfast of Champions." His character Kilgore Trout taught us that even sad losers can be heroes.

"Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters," "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," "Franny and Zooey." J.D. Salinger, with his adventures of the Glass family, particularly the patriarch Seymour Glass, revealed the normalcy of dysfunctional families.

Poet Richard Brautigan who committed suicide in later years, showed us how to say so much with few words.

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown was a shocking revelation on genocide, done by our own country, and confirmed all the reasons why we had to continue to "stick it to the man."

A rekindled cult following brought us down on our knees before Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." To put a book down and weep your heart out..... I don't think words can convey what Frodo taught us. T-shirts worn around the east side of Milwaukee carried the phrase "Frodo Lives."

Books and stories have done many things to me, none of which were ever bad.

I wonder why most of the controversy is always over sex.

Sitting in the gym at Woodworth Middle School last week I listened and watched as Norman and Millicent Dachman of Madison told middle school students about the Holocaust. Kids were crying, I was crying, teachers were breaking down.

We heard about Freedom fighters urinating on their bread to soften it enough to eat.
We saw heaps of naked, skeletal bodies, crematoriums and Dr. Mengele's creepy place where he experimented on people.

I wonder if parents complained.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

According to the Urban on-line dictionary an ear worm refers to any song that is so catchy, and at the same time so extremely annoying, that it feels like a worm has crawled into your ear and eaten the intelligent parts of your brain so that you hum the song all day long, no matter how much you hate it.

Well I’ve had that problem lately with Todd Rundgren’s “Hello it’s Me.”

Not that that’s a bad thing, it could be worse, much worse. Once I had “Take a Chance on Me” by Abba stuck in my head for one entire, sleepless night. Another time it was “Once Upon a Dream,” from Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

Lest I have to write about myself again, which is beginning to repulse me, I asked co-workers, on this day before Thanksgiving, to share their earworm horror stories.

I think Gary’s may be the worst. He is so terrified of “You’re Having My Baby” by Paul Anka getting stuck in his head again that we aren’t allowed to even say the name of the song. He had to write it down on a slip of paper and hand it to me.

So here it goes and PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR OWN.

"Stuck in the Middle With You" by Steeler's Wheel
“One of the worst songs ever to be stuck in my head actually contains the word, stuck... So naturally, now that you mention it, there it is in my head again.... Thanks a lot”
April Showers
Newsroom clerk/Jack-of-all-trades

The worst: “The Barney Song.”
“I managed to avoid this until I had kids, but even though neither of my kids ever got real attached to this show, they did sing the song from time to time, I even joined in once or twice, Yuk!”
The best: "Open Your Eyes" by Snow Patrol
Peggy Breister
City editor

“Da Da Da” by The Trio.
“That would have to be the worst one. There were others, but they don't reach the level of annoying that this song achieves.”
The best: “‘Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts’ (sung together with her family???????????????????)
Heather Stanek
Reporter

“Turkey Song” By Adam Sandler
Ruth Schoenbeck
Advertising layout lady

“Dead skunk in the middle of the road, Dead skunk in the middle of the road and it’s stinking to high heaven.”
Jeff Reader
He does stuff downstairs, marketing I think

Worst: “Believe” by Cher
“’Do you believe in love after love,’ ughhh....”
Best: “Sweetness,” by Jimmy Eat World
Amie Jo Schaenzer


Best: “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger
“The chorus ‘I'm not sick but I'm not well, and I'm so hot cause I'm in hell’ just goes around and around in your head until you finally adopt it as your credo, especially on a bad day.”
Worst : “I was driving to work late one night and the ABBA song ‘Take a Chance on Me’ came on the radio. For my entire 10-hour shift I kept hearing 'take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me' until I felt like running out of the building screaming.”
Colleen Kottke
Waupun Bureau Reporter

Worst: “You’re Having My Baby,” “Rocky,” “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” and “Indiana Wants Me.”
Best: “Too Many People” by Paul and Linda McCartney.
Gary Clausius
Paginator

Worst: “Wheels on the Bus.”
Katie Hullin
Paginator

Worst: “There was a stupid song on Barney that went…’If all the rain were lemon drops and gum drops, Oh what a rain that would be. Standing outside with my mouth open wide (now comes the really bad part…you tip your head back, open your mouth and sing) augh, augh, augh, augh, augh, augh, augh, augh, augh, augh’. It’ll be stuck in my head the rest of the day…thanks a lot!”
Joan Brezinsky
Advertising

"The Final Countdown" by Europe. (The theme to which G.O.B. from "Arrested Development" performs his magic acts. (Heavy on the synthesizer...) The worst part is, I know only three words to this '80s rock anthem ... you guessed it: "the final countdown."
David Williams
Entertainment coordinator
Worst: “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone
Best: AC/DC's “Thunderstruck”
Avi Stern
Editor

Worst: “I'm Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred
Best: "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls
Doug Whitely
Sports writer/columnist

Worst: "Mandy" by Barry Manilow and "Green, Green" by ? I'm thinkin' the New Christy Minstrals
Best: "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison
Tom Guenther, who's arm had to be twisted to do this.
"I'm not into that," he said.
Assistant City editor

"Elmo's Song"
Justin Connaher
(who then sang it loud into my ear)
Photographer

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver but the other, gold."

Those words must have been written about my friends Jean & Jane.

We've been together through thick and thin since kindergarten.

The twins lived across what our mothers believed to be a treacherous street, Greenfield Ave., which divides Brookfield and New Berlin. Jean and Jane lived on the "greaser side" in New Berlin, which was filled with hoodlums and juvenile delinquents, according to the people who lived in upper middle-class Brookfield.

Living on the fringe of this Milwaukee suburb, I had my feet in both worlds.

Jean & Jane had all the hot guys living on their street, the ones with leather jackets, greased back hair and cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves. These young studs hung out at night at Golden Chicken, guzzled Pabst Blue Ribbon and wrote "NB and Grease Rules" in red paint on the 124th Street overhead railroad track bridge. It's still there.

The three of us were kept as good as girls can be, at least until junior high when flower power reached the suburbs and threatened our mothers' aproned Betty Crocker worlds.

OK, fine Jean, you two were the good girls and I was was the one who always had the box "practices self-control" checked on my report card as lacking.

No matter how well executed and devious our plans were to cross Greenfield Ave. without fail, someone's mother would be looking out a window, call our mothers, and then all hell would break loose.

In the early 60s all mothers were looking out windows all the time. That's why there was less crime and deviance in general.

Picking tales to tell from 44 years of friendship could certainly reveal stories that would make your hair stand on end. Dare I tell you about Jane and the Calamine lotion or Jean and the Vietnam Vet? "Come on, Jean, just be with him!"

Nah, I still somewhat value my life.

Suffice to say we can still look at each other and laugh our guts out without emitting any sound, still sing every word of "The Mikado" (the ninth grade musical), and recite vivid details of the day Jane fell off the monkey bars, had a concussion and saw wiener dogs everywhere. Our personal histories are so mind-melded I can describe their fourth grade wardrobes, they know all the hideous presents I got in 1972, when my family decided to make gifts (have you ever seen a dress crocheted by a beginner?) and all three of us know what wooden beam our names are written on in the basement of our childhood homes.

Last year Jean gave me a 16-page letter I wrote to her (in tiny penmanship to include all details) in June 1973, when we were both 16 and she was on vacation with her parents. It would be a shocking tell-all to anyone but us, because, of course, we lived it.

Here's an excerpt from a summer party scene:

"Then all the greasers came out and started arguing with the freaks, trying to start a fight. Lee Hester (Joan's boyfriend) was doing most of it, saying they look like girls and all that. A greaser grabbed Baltimore and started pummeling him. 'Hey, come on now,' Baltimore yelled and to his friends: 'are you just gonna just stand there and watch?'

"Jim, a greaser who just lost his older brother in a car accident (They say he was playing chicken), went nuts, was screaming and crying and trying to pull everyone's hair out. He was so drunk he thought he heard people talking about his dead brother's own hair.

"Bear kept screaming 'what's the big deal about hair! People are people! ' Three guys had to sit on him to calm him down. Someone got the dog ripped and it was laying down in the middle of all this barking with its eyes closed. Jean, it was the wildest night I ever had!"

These days Jane is a nurse at Froetdert and still lives in New Berlin, sans any hot greasers. Jean works at a law office in Milwaukee.

Often in the summer we still meet at Lee's Boy Blue on Greenfield Ave., one of the only landmarks left from the old neighborhood. We visit Nick Gazzana's grave, Jane's crush since grade school. He died of a drug overdose way too young, never knowing how much he was loved by the three of us.

Afterwards we tour our childhoods, house by house, remembering who once lived there.

"If time were not a moving thing and I could make it stay...."

To the "Gordball" twins:

"Get funky."

Need I say more?

Monday, November 13, 2006

One more thing and I know you are sick of hearing about it but....

Happy 61st Birthday Neil.
Long may you run......
Some Monday observations:

This is an fervent plea to the makers of Lindt chocolate:

PLEASE STOP.

I was fine until they handed me a free sample a couple weeks ago at the new store in Mayfair Mall. I'd never tasted it before.

The milk chocolate balls with truffle center. If there is such a thing as sin, those are. Get behind me Satan.

In an effort to thumb my nose at the lack of quality anything these days I've plugged in an old push button phone from the late seventies with no answering machine. My parents used it in their basement. It's beige with a mismatched red receiver and cord. The buttons are kind of filled with crud and stick a little.
Every portable phone system I've ever had is a cheap piece of you know what that dies after a couple of years. This one doesn't go out when the electricity does. I love it!

The geese left today. Yes! Now I can finally clean the impacted gravel out of my shoes.

If anyone has a videotape of last Tuesday's House, can you please send it to me in care of The Reporter? I set the VCR to the wrong time. Incredible weeping & gnashing of teeth last night.

I'm fighting off the urge today to get another tattoo. Is this what they call mid-life crisis? I almost got my nose pierced last year. I was all ready to go with my daughter to some schnazzy place in Milwaukee when it dawned on me the older you get, the bigger your nose gets, so why call attention to it. The two things I'm not real big on are noses and feet. I have to look away when people wear sandals.

Anyway, most people don't know I have a butterfly tattoo because it's little and hidden under the back of my hair. There was only one tattoo parlor that I knew of in the state in 1975. I was 18 years old and drove to Lake Geneva.

I tend to forget I have it and made the mistake of getting my hair cut short this past year. Never again.

Still there's this need to feed the free spirit.

I don't know what to feed it anymore, but definitely not Lindt chocolate.

Maybe dreadlocks?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Don't forget to run out Nov. 14 and purchase Neil's latest release, the first sampling from his extensive, bulging! archives. "Live at the Fillmore East," recorded in 1970, features the "perfect stranger like a cross of himself and a fox" with Crazy Horse, including the late Danny Whitten, who died two years later of a drug overdose. Rolling Stone gives it four out five stars.

Speaking of Neil I have to share with you something Catman wrote to me. He's a eccletic character on one of my Neil lists. He was expounding on old hippie chicks and how they are "still hot," and I of course, had to concurr, which just leads him on, every time.

His Kerouacean prose gets me every time.

"I figure, at this point in the game we're all stuck in the bucket,I say (bleep)baby, let's at LEAST enjoy the WHOLE ride !!! Spend what's left of the IRA money on estrogen and viagra and........GO ON WITH THE PARADE !!!!! I don't care if I'm layin there like a cold fish with needles and tubes running EVERYwhere, with some little candy striper comin in and trippin on my cathator tube every day, my eyes
transfixed on a blank and flourescent lite plain white ceiling knowing every second that they will never set their gaze on another nekid hippie chick of any age...ever again, AND...even if my ears so racked by constant ringing for so many years they won't ever even be CAPABLE of hearing that far off sound of the honkers headed south late in the fall...even if there was someone left in the world to roll my broken body over to an open window for long enough for me to fill my tar coated lungs for one long last breath of that cool dry air that sweeps down from the frozen ice caps of the great north land over those towering and majestic glacier peaked Rocky Mountains high...every long and lonely winters night....yep, thanks to Neil's music, NONE of that will be any problem AT ALL because, I'll be going down with all those ~~~~~~~~~~~TUNES IN MY HEAD !!!!!~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's the first furious snowfall of the season, coming down like clumps of soggy cornflakes and leaving a 2-inch thick layer of slush on the road.

Of course no one remembers how to drive in snow and the police scanner is going bonkers with - one after the other - runoffs, spinouts, rollovers.

On top of that it's thundering and lightning with reports of power outages. Freaky stuff.

Meanwhile, it's the anniversary of the sinking of the Great Lakes freighter, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, around 7:10 p.m. tonight.

If I was computer savy I could post a photo of what was once a proud vessel, but alas, I can barely blog.

For no known reason, maybe because we all need real lives, it's an official holiday in The Reporter newsroom. Up goes a photo on the bulletin board of the famous ship, bound for destruction on Nov. 10, 1975 when it sank in Lake Superior during a typical November storm. Probably a freaky one, like this one.

Snibbits of Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" are sung, intermittently, throughout the day. If we are really lucky Tom may bring in a copy from his endless music collection and play it for the unsuspecting newbie who asks "The Edmund what?"

"..The lake it is said never gives up her dead
when the skies of November turn gloomy..."


Gary said he knows a guy that was stationed on the Fitzgerald, before its demise, who works in Fond du Lac. He's superstitious enough not to talk about his association with the unlucky freighter and gave Gary his discharge papers from the ship.


Aaron in Green Bay, who used to work here, said his father tells the story of picking up a hitchhiker, a sailor, and driving him to his destination and ironically, his final demise. The sailor boarded the Fitzgerald that fateful night and the rest is history.

Aaron writes:

"On cold November nights, when the west wind whips against the windows of my father's bedroom, he still sees the cold, drenched, eternally extended thumb of the hitchhiking sailor, and he fears it beckons him to join the lost seaman on his lonely journey."

We salute you, brave crew of 29.

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes

when the waves turn the minutes to hours? "

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Every election day I think of my father and chuckle.
He was a closet republican.

"Are you kidding me???" I said when my younger sister (the one who still has my Neil Young book!) told me.

"Of course, didn't you know???" she said.

"In this country we have a right to a private vote," my father always answered when we asked him how he voted.

Living in a household with four children during the late sixties-early seventies, children who believed in "QUESTIONING AUTHORITY," it was probably safer to remain anonymous.

My father is the American dream. After the war he took a job sweeping the floor at a custom machine shop, the Herzberg Corp. in Milwaukee.

He ended up buying the company and becoming president and CEO of his own 30-employee business: Milwaukee Machine & Engineering Corp. in New Berlin.

The success of this country, he believed, was in the hands of small business owners.

"There is no difference between the guy who sweeps the floor and the president of a company as long as they both do the best job they can," he often told us.

He lived by example, a quiet man who didn't feel the need to voice his opinion, unlike his middle daughter.

Not that there wasn't healthy debate in the Roznik family. His siblings were union people, employed at Allis Chalmers in West Allis. But in those days debate was an intellectual process - there were no low blows or cheap shots. It was a favorite pastime, an oratory exercise that drew an apple pie eating audience (my grandmother's).

I recently read somewhere "There is no real liberalism or conservatism, only a high road and a low road."

My dad always lead us along that high road, to live what we believed, no matter what.

He is a hero in my heart, gone 22 years, a loss that has never lessened.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Remember my description of feeling the rush of wings as Canada geese fly overhead?
Basic dribble. Forget about it. Erase it from your memory banks.

I'm an idiot.

Did you know geese poop like dogs?
Well, some like dogs, some like cats, it depends on the goose.
How would I have known this without spending time these days walking the trail that winds around the pond off of Camelot Drive.

Yeesh, there is no possible way to use this beautiful walking path, complete with fashionable gazebo, without stepping on goose droppings, and believe me, droppings doesn't amply describe the mess.

It looks like someone walked 10,000 St. Bernards after they were fed very cheap dog food. The pond is packed with birds.

To make matters worse, you need a wide-brimmed hat to avoid the fall-out from the frequent fly-overs.

In the past I've covered stories on the geese abatement program, the egg shaking plan, at Lakeside Park on Lake Winnebago. It went on for a couple of years after park-goers complained the ball diamonds were so laden with goose gifts players were actually slipping on it.

At the time I, the peacenik at heart that I am, thought "Why can't we all get along, live in harmony with these creatures???"

That was before I stepped in it myself.

Please, beautiful birds, can't you hang out somewhere else, like Illinois?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

There's an undeniable grip of fear as the end of vacation nears, a seizing in the stomach.
Every time I am on vacation I convince myself that I am independently wealthy and do not have to work.
I like to pretend, a lot. It's not just for kids, people. But that's another story in a long line of other stories.

Everyone will be asking me "what did you do and where did you go," waiting to hear me claim vacation bragging rights to someplace exotic and spectacular.

For the first time in 25 years I used vacation time, for the most part, to be by myself.
I needed to listen for that "inner voice" that is supposed to be trying to speak to us all the time. So much noise has been drowning it out for a long time.

*At night the stillness brought flocks of geese flying so low overheard I could hear and feel the powerful rush of collective wings. I've never heard that sound before.

* I turned on mid-day television, one of my taboos, and came across Luke Spencer (sans his long, curly locks) on General Hospital asking Laura "will you marry me?" AGAIN!
Anyone my age will know how freaky this is. I went home (allegedly) sick from work on Nov. 16, 1981 to watch those two get married. It was the wedding of the year, so monumental it was my mother who called me at work to say "tell them you have to leave and get over here, now!"
Laura, I've been told, was recently catatonic and in a mental hospital. LOL. Some things never change.

*I lounged in bed with a thick comforter and cups of coffee listening to WPR's (an addiction) "A Prairie Home Companion," "Click 'n Clack," "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," "What Do You Know" and Dr. Zorba and Tom Clark.

* I read volume one of Bob Dylan's "Chronicles," surprised at how straight Dylan was throughout his career, keenly focused on one vision. I had him pegged as someone who would have been "experimental." He never was a part of the counter culture I presumed he was a part of. He was an island unto himself.

Kind of like me this week.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not that I mind Halloween, but when there are grown people at stores waiting on you with dog noses on...I don't know what to do. Acknowledge it, avoid eye contact, snicker, what?

Halloween fashion has gotten so bloody and life-like these days, the more rotting corpse-like, the better.

In the old days Trick or Treat was at night in the dark. We either wore improvisational sheets or a mask, because we were bundled up in winter coats and those (ewww) scarves we had to wear in the sixties before hats were in. All the girls looked like they just got off the boat from the old country.

"If it's good enough for your grandma to wear....."

The Richard Nixon mask era, that was a good time.
We were all so pumped he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar. We put so much energy into hating that guy.

Then I saw him cry on television when he resigned, and I realized he was somebody's dad.

Neil Young sang: "even Richard Nixon has got soul."

My friend Gail said after Nixon, she can never hate another president again. It was too painful.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

P.S. Hugh Laurie hosted SNL.
A lesson in acting excellence, as in trained in the old Shakespearean school.
My, my my
OK, I know, I'm on vacation, I should not be here.
Could the sun at this time of year feel any better??
Coupled with a quick wind whirling bunches of brittle leaves, Heaven on earth.
One exception: Who spread the pig manure so thick last week all of Fond du Lac reeked? That's one big pig farm.
Colleen, you have an in to the farm world, what the heck was that all about?
Step forward if you are the culprit.
And I thought the lake smelled putrid on hot days.....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I only have one minute because I'm at the library, which doesn't even have a science fiction section. Whoever heard of such a thing.

If I'm on vacation, for God's sake, I need some Arthurian legend books. I'm addicted. Where are they? I have to skim though each fiction shelf?

I can no longer stand how they shelve books - it kills my neck. Why can't they stack them so titles are readable? Please, someone out there invent something.

Geez, do I sound like my mother? Everything used to bother her.

"You are so intolerant Mother!!!"

"Don't you roll you eyes at me like that."

Now I am that woman.

More on that, things that drive me nuts, another day, and hopefully by then I've become Zen enough to have "let it all go."

It started, this irritability over unchangable things, when I was getting ready this morning and noticed, for the first time, I no longer have definite lip lines. They just sort of meld into the skin around them, which is completely off topic but bothered me because then how do you stop the lipstick from running into the rest of your face? I don't get this. I tried to use some lip liner but it looked like a four-year-old had a field day with a red crayon.

I should have left it that way.

Just like the blood-curdling scream fantasy, I thought of a new one. Put lipstick wherever it goes, what the hell, then go to the grocery store like that and see how many people try to avoid staring.

The key is, of course, to act perfectly normal.

I have no access to a phone or Internet until Nov. 2. There are those who say this will do me good. I'm skeptical.

I also missed The Office, David, but I'm not about to miss House next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I will try to remain calm as I say this.
I have almost TWO WEEKS OF VACATION!!!!
Anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom knows what this means.
I think it's safe to say that being a reporter is a type A job for a type A personality.
I, unfortunately, am way down the alphabet, probably Q for "quasi," as the dictionary defines "a prefix,implying appearance, without reality." That or quagmire," which is how the newsroom feels at times: "a boggy land."
It takes about three days into vacation for nerve endings to stop vibrating as they realize there really is no deadline.
I don't have to tell you what kind of grin I had on my face the last few hours at work. I told David I want to stand up and let out a blood-curdling scream, just once in my life, at an inappropriate moment. You know, like they do in the movies.
"Now's a good time," he said.
You would have liked that wouldn't you David, To see me in trouble again!
Alas, I contained myself. Suffice to activate my out of office e-mail and change the phone message.
Michelle the Web-slave-master at work said I had to keep blogging while on vacation so people will keep reading. Get real Clark, no one reads this stuff. Put that whip down!
I don't know... maybe if I can find the strength to come out of the bubble bath and cross the room to the computer...............
I can hear my son's words right now "Oh, God mom, please, now I'm blind..."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

I am the Saturday reporter because the rest of the crew is young and vibrant and lives for weekends.

Me, I'm just trying to avoid cleaning the house and grocery shopping. Muzak freaks me out. Hearing Neil's "Heart of Gold" in Pick 'n Save... sick and demented.

The newsroom is quieter on Saturdays. We wear old jeans and sweatshirts, eat those big, hard pretzels that crack fillings and swear out loud, if we had to I mean, which hasn't been the case so far. ( ;-D ).

Who knew that by age 49 something as mundane as running Saturday morning errands before work would be a highlight of the week.
Pitiful, really, but not without some indulgence.

Cranking a CD Katie at work burned for me. The windows on the Vibe rattle to Godsmack's "Voodoo" while I take my life into my own hands crossing Highway 151 at V, a debauchery (I love that word) of lanes and barrels and cars trying to avoid collision. Extreme bumper cars. I am terrified of 151 and haven't the courage to get on it. I am clueless as to where it goes.

Some worthwhile side trips along the way to work: Jitters, Act II Resale Shop, the Fond du Lac Public Library, Lakeside Park (just to measure how high the waves are) and the new gelato place at Forest Mall.

It is so worth skipping breakfast and lunch for a caramel gelato.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Whenever I meet a Brit I thank their country for Hugh Laurie.
They know the now middle-aged actor for his quick-witted, comedic talent in British shows like "Jeeves and Wooster," "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" and "Blackadder."

We know him as the tortured genius, Dr. Greg House.

One of my no-guilt-whatsoever pleasures is watching Laurie in "House" on Tuesday nights. Grizzled, with a permanent stumble (is it hot in here?) and wrinkled shirts, the sarcastic, sacriligious neurosurgeon (one of the world's leading, of course) is emotionally damaged by the betrayal of a lover and physically suffering with a crippled leg. The pain forces him to pop vicodin, like candy.

He is often cruel, shocking even, in his maniacal pursuit of the truth and a diagnosis.

Me, as in among thousands of women, are smitten with him. We can't help ourselves, it's an actual medical condition, or mental illness, known as as the "Only I can save this guy from his demons" phenomenon.


Several "House" yahoo lists boast a female membership numbering in the thousands. The meaner House is, the more pills he ingests,the more we love him, not to mention his outstanding "philtrum."

I feel sorry for Jared. He sits next to me at work, and is, the world's greatest baseball fan.

Unfortunately, House has been postponed a month because of this (alleged)great American past time.

Jared's punishment for his guilt by association is checking and rechecking air times for House and any spoilers revealing tidbits about upcoming episodes.

Tony Blair and the Queen, please let us keep Hugh.
Trade you for Dr. McDreamy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


This is what my younger sister in Washington wrote to me the other day when I inquired if she STILL had my Neil Young song book, after stealing it from my room 30 years ago:

"YES, I HAVE your damn Neil Young guitar book. Don't you have enough stuff in regards to him???? I will have to look for it. It is in my music box. I played a lot of that stuff on my guitar.....still do sometimes.....Needle and the Damage Done, Old Man, a lot of them. I think that is why I never gave it back. I will find it and make copies of those songs then send it to you."

I've heard this story before.
There's also some old record albums in question, but when I bring them up she changes the subject.



"This is why there are wars, because you two fight," my mother would say to the two of us, threatening to send us to the "Naughty Girl's Home," a ugly, forboding brick building located along Bluemound Road in Wauwatosa. I think it's a college now.

Old-timers say that it once, really was, a "Home for Wayward Girls."

My mother actually got on the telephone, which was at that time a party line, and pretended to call.
"Yes, Naughty Girls Home? I have two girls for you ready for pick up They can't seem to behave."

It's only slighty funny now.

Enough Diane. Give me my book back. Or I'm making a call..........

Monday, October 16, 2006

I have to go to the dentist and prepare for the bridge I've been putting off for years.
I kind of liked being gape-toothed in a professional setting. It it just one small way to, once again, stick it to the man.

You know, not having that blinding white smile which is the trend with everyone bleaching their teeth.

My middle-aged friends consider it a "miracle breakthrough" in retaining a semblance of oral youth. I tried it once. It burned and felt like I was doing laundry in my mouth.

My dentist said she has had countless women my age in her office with eroded tooth enamel from the constant bleaching of their teeth.

I've learned to live with mine.

"Try not to smile or laugh," my kids would tell me.

Then they tried a subtler approach.

"Mom, your teeth are hideous."

My dentist is a goddess, truly, because she helped me overcome my fear of dentists, which dates back to 1976. I was living in Italy and had a tooth infection. Held down by two attendants a dentist with very hairy arms burned away my gums with a hot wire. Smoke poured out of my mouth and I passed out.

I am not one for altered states anymore. I don't even like cold medicine. First, everything makes me tired. Second, I have a hard enough time living in the reality as we know it. I don't need any setbacks.

There's one exception.
Nitrous oxide.
It's difficult to explain in words how it works. Suffice to say there's a six inch needle being plunged through your gums up into the mjaor nerve that runs under your cheekbone and for some reason, it's extremely funny.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My son is out of the woods!
Back in June he left to find his way in life. Not his fortune, mind you - that would be, in his words, capitalism.
So off he headed to live in the forests of Oregon.
"Lots of people are doing it, mom." he said.
All I could think of was the movie "Deliverance."
The neccesity to survive is a driving force. He found a job at a telephone survey place, which I find strange. Ever since he was a teen his phone conversations amounted to little more than the words "OK," "Fine," and "I don't know." That has changed little.
"Why don't you call your mother?"
"You know I hate talking on the phone, mom."
His girlfriend met him out there a month ago, convinced he had become responsible enough for her to join him.
She certainly inspired him to become self-sufficient.
Now they found a little place to stay. Thankfully they won't be living in the woods through winter.
He did need money from his mother for the deposit on the rental property. I contemplated tough love, until his father said to me "I know you. Would you rather part with the money, curse for an hour (with that creative license you so aptly apply in cases like this) and sleep at night, or say no and lay awake thinking he's been abducted by some organic vegetable-growing, indentured slave type cult, who chant in long, nasal syllables, eat bulgar wheat, grow Rip van Winkle beards and have group sex?"
Well, that was simple.
I did remind my son of all the jobs he could do to make more money. He knows how to weld, do carpentry, work in a factory, sell tires, work fast food.
"Mom," he said with that patient sigh of his, knowing I had to be explained to again, because I am so dense. "I've come to realize that all those things do not cultivate my own, personal happiness."
Ah....
He sent pictures. He cut off his dreadlocks and his hair is a short, ratty mess, but in a trendy, tousled way. He still has big ear plugs and a beard.
He and his girl are going to make jewelry, candles, and tie-dye shirts. He asked our sizes for Christmas.
Whenever I lament about him to someone who knows me well, they respond "Boy, which non-conformist in life does that sound like?"
Me, I answer sheepishly.
He's followed the road less traveled and I am proud of his gentle, loving spirit.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I weep thinking we can't eat fresh greens.
The news this morning said the e-coli tainting of California spinach has been traced to cattle manure. Now, there's warnings about lettuce.
How long must I eat chocolate as a vitamin replacement? How long can we suffer like this? ;-D

The death of my iPod
(I told you Rust Nver Sleeps)

In the great scheme of things, some entity exits just to smite me every time I think I know something.
This is not to be confused with being smitten. Far from it.
I am smote every time I try to use a piece of technology. Cursed.
I thought (my first mistake) I could master an iPod. No more fast forwarding through cassettes, skipping through CDs, and yes, repositioning the needle on the record player.
Now a person, like me, even at my advanced age, could just purchase one song at a time, the song that sticks in your mind so you can't sleep at night, but that's another story (There is a level of hell in which Abba sings "Take a Chance on Me" over and over again, without end).

It was a seven-month love affair. It was worth the partial hearing loss to blast Harry Nilsson's "Jump into the Fire (thanks T) ;" "Conquistador" by Procol Harem; The Byrd's "Eight Miles High;" "Warrior" by Wishbone Ash; John Mayall's incredible "Room to Move," the Dead's sing-a-long "Uncle John's Band;" Bruce's ode "Candy's Room;" and the haunting, slow version of Neil's "Mr. Soul," to name just a few.

I swear I didn't break it. It just stopped working. It died in my hands.

What ensued in trying to get the damn thing fixed by Apple was a nightmare that still haunts me. The first step was a hellish visit to the iPod on-line diagnostic center (Mordor) where this already traumatized iPod owner was tortured through a series of maniacal manipulations. Do this, do that, try this, press that, unload it, then load it again, change stuff on your own computer while chanting unintelligible computer geek jargon words, like "power source," "battery," "power up," "on switch" and "plug."

It took what seemed like hours to find out nothing, which then allowed me to move on to the next step: sending it to the Apple iPod place where technicians with names like "Igor" and "Damien" laugh hideously as they grab the special shipping box I had to order for $30 from the heaping mountain of dead iPods.

There was some gnashing of teeth for a few days. I was terrified of the warning on the diagnostic site that stated if they find out there is really nothing wrong with your iPod, like you were just trying to mess with their minds for the fun of it, they can charge you a whopping $200, or the cost of a new one. If and when they deem your iPod worthy of fixing, they will send you back a refurbished one, not your own. Anyone's. Someone like Jeffrey Dahmer could have had it in their ear.

In the end, they refused to fix my iPod under warranty. They claim, and there's no disputing their claim, believe it, I tried, that there is a dent in the casing. I could pay to get it fixed, an estimate which totaled the original cost of the item.

There is no dent and my dead iPod sits in my top right desk drawer, with the lost souls of songs trapped inside it.

Are you in there Neil?
"Helpless, helpless, helpless."

Anyone have a transister radio?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I know this sounds demented.
The squeamish, those that say "this heat and humidity feels so good" may not want to read further.
When the news this morning said a storm was headed this way with snow and bitter cold I felt a sense of exhilaration.
I get to haul out my winter coats.
I'm a coat freak. Every closet in my house bears the bulk of an assemblage of coats, jackets, and zip up hooded sweatshirts from every era, beginning with the 1970s. That's not counting the green plaid "car coat" I have that was my fathers, maybe from the 60s, and my brother's bowling jacket with his name on the back.
I still have my fringed, leather jacket from high school and a swing coat; faux fur coats popular in the 1980s, dress coats inherited from my older sister who insisted on owning several church coats coinciding with the season (bright red for Christmas) , and some funky ponchos I was tempted to haul back out because they are back in style but haven't had the guts to after I saw a bumper sticker that read "Real friends don't let friends wear ponchos."
A hand-crocheted one made for me decades ago by my aunt is floor-length, white with gold sparkles in it, and weighs about 50 pounds.
My father was a softspoken man who never yelled, so when he did discipline any of his kids it was major. One of the few times I got in trouble was in junior high school when he found out I was wearing his army jacket from World War II around town. Army jackets were the rage amidst the anti-war sentiment.
"That jacket is something you earn," he said quietly.
I was 13 year old and thought "what does he know."
How things change.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

First post:

It's hard to be almost 50 and a woman reporter in the newsroom.Reporters are young and can still burn the candle at both ends. They absorb technology using some bizarre form of osmosis.Most people my age are editors by this time.It's hard to be an old hippie, at least people identify me as such. I think it's the hair. I just don't brush it. My daughter, age 22, says almost daily "What's nesting in there today? Do you know there are hair products that can help you?"I can't seem to move on beyond maybe, 1975. I still haul out old records and stare at album covers. Thank God there are people at work, a few, I can play "what three albums would you take to a desert island with you" to stay sane.Then there are the theme "days," that make no sense, like "Beatle/Apple Day" but more about that later.I have 31 ticket stubs to Neil Young concerts. What I don't understand is why he hasn't noticed me yet, sitting there in the crowd. I swear that our eyes lock, but people tell me I have an "overactive imagination" and also "overeact" all the time. I don't see this, but if I disagree, then I'm "overeacting again."Anyway,as you can see, I have not become a world-famous rock and roll journalist like Cameron Crowe in "Almost Famous."I'm still here covering school board meetings and writing this blog, and I have no clue what I am doing.Literally, at this age, I mean.Talk to me.

Extreme Makoever: Home Edition took over little Dundee, Wisconsin, last week, an Irish-settled berg nestled at the end of Long Lake in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest. And it took over a big chunk of my life, some 12 to 13 hours days reporting, in part, on what editors called the "Ty Pennington" sightings.

By Sunday I was so drained I was talking gibberish. The sad part was no one noticed. They said that was normal for me.



Talk about beautiful people - they were, the EXTREME stars, coiffured, tan in a California sense of tan, even and bronze, the sparkle of their teeth blinding, their clothing, albeit Ty's faded jeans with the knees out, still looking in some way like they came straight from a designer.

His presence sent crowds into a frenzy, girls screaming his name, some near tears, others dropping to their knees. Men in the newsroom wondered why women would like his crazy, tousled hair, carefully askew.

You tell me? I don't know, I haven't cried at the sight a man, since, maybe 1975. OK I'm lying.
Neil Young singing with his buds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young "Find the Cost of Freedom." It was Sept. 6 at the Marcus Amphitheater in Milwaukee on the Lakefront. Full moon was rising.

Photos of all the U.S. dead since the Iraq war started flashed on screen, in rows like a checkerboard.

It's over two thousand now, and you couldn't help but be moved at all their young faces.