Home for the holidays

It's the morning after Thanksgiving and I've stayed the night at my Mom and Dad's. The family has plans to go out to breakfast at a popular restaurant. We're in the kitchen.

Mom: You want something to eat? Cereal, English muffin, toast, juice? Our reservation isn't for two hours yet.

(I pour a bowl of cereal. I'm about to pour the milk.)

Mom: You don't want to eat too much before breakfast.

The forthright folks at Benjamin Moore paints

It wouldn't be prudent to paint the bedroom without reading the instructions on the paint can. Down near the bottom of the label is a list of the substances in the paint: water, titanium dioxide, latex resin... and this last notice: CONTENTS PARTIALLY UNKNOWN. But I prefer to think that the contents are mostly known.

Don't be shy

In the company where my friend works, they're just getting acquainted with the concept of employee suggestions as a way to improve conditions in the workplace: "You each take a slip of paper here, and write down a suggestion, any idea at all, and be honest. Don't write your name on the paper. Then just hand over your slip of paper anonymously to Jimmy, and he'll bring all the suggestions to management."


In his Nov. 2 letter of resignation, Attorney General John Ashcroft wrote, "I take great personal satisfaction in the record which has been developed. The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."

I'm fresh

I walked home and when I opened my building's front door I was bowled over by the smell of rotting chicken all through the lobby. As I headed for the elevator, guys in matching dark blue windbreakers were awkwardly stepping out of an elevator, carrying a loaded body bag between them. They went out the back door. I was taking shallow breaths but oh my god the smell was thick. There was a maintenance man nearby and he explained that "the old man died upstairs about four days ago." So now I'm thinking of myself as meat that hasn't rotted just yet.

Word power

Things labeled by an acquaintance as "crazy":

This warm weather
Yasser Arafat
This desk chair
The frosting on that cake
[Murder defendant] Scott Peterson
[Game show contestant] Ken Jennings
This cool weather

Paper Moon

Seventy years ago people listened to really sappy songs on the radio.

I'd gladly move the earth for you
To prove my love, dear, and its worth for you

There are probably corny lyrics in today's pop music, but I don't know if today's audiences would believe a guy as innocent as this one seemed in the 1930s:

I know I won't be late
'cause at half past eight
I'm gonna hurry there.
I'll be waiting where the lane begins,
waiting for you on needles and pins.

These songs were in the movie Paper Moon, which was released in 1973 but set in 1930s small-town America during the "great depression." I first saw the movie when I was a kid and got a kick out of seeing ten-year-old Tatum O'Neal running around in adventures with the grownups.

The object of my affection
Can change my complexion
From white to rosy red
Anytime she holds my hand
and tells me that she's mine

When Paper Moon first came out, maybe some people loved it because it appeared to thoroughly recreate a time from long ago, making it a great escape from current events.

Without your love
it's a honky tonk parade,
Without your love
it's a melody played in a penny arcade.

I have this movie's soundtrack on vinyl; it's not on CD. All the songs are from the early 1930s and it's like paging through somebody's old photo album to hear those voices and the cheerful music coming through the surface noise.

Trouble's just a bubble,
And the clouds will soon roll by,
So let's have another cup of coffee,
And let's have another piece of pie.

Having avoided the news in the papers, TV, radio, and "internets" last week, it's time to pick them up again!

Stand upon your legs,
be like two fried eggs,
Keep your sunny side up!

(It Will Have To Do) Until The Real Thing Comes Along
by Mann Holiner, Alberta Nichols, Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin, and L. E. Freeman
About A Quarter To Nine
by Al Dubin and Harry Warren
The Object of My Affection
by Pinky Tomlin, Coy Poe, and Jimmie Grier
It's Only a Paper Moon
by Billy Rose, E.Y. Harburg, and Harold Arlen
Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee
by Irving Berlin
Sunnyside Up
by B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson

A new kind of deficit spending is born

"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. "
-- George W. Bush, in yesterday's press conference


"You can defeat us but you cannot convince us."
-- from the cover of McSweeney's, issue no. 3, 1999