Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Russia Saves the Galaxy?

It wasn't too long ago that we were sure that Russia -- the USSR, CCCP -- would blow up the world. They beat us to space, we beat them at hockey. We raced to build arms with the foolish thought that if we had one more than them, they'd back down. In the end, they gave us their wall and we gave them denim.

Hearing that Russians stood in line for hours for toilet paper sorta whipped back the curtain and all at once, the big bad wizard behind the screen was just a little man with great manipulative powers. Russia became to the superpowers what Mork was to aliens.

So what does a nation do that's been all but exiled from Earth? Become the superpower in space. It's a lawless, unexplored front with no borders and little political history. Their space station is the Eagle's Nest of the galaxy.

Now with a crippled U.S. and our own status as a world superpower being questioned, it seems that Russia is once again making headlines with their influence on the world. The Earth, to be exact.

Russia's space agency just announced plans to attack a rogue asteroid, ala Armageddon. Is this more smoke and mirrors in Oz, or have they somehow managed to bring the nations of Earth to their mercy once again? When they're done playing Galactic Sheriff, will we let them back into our playground, thankful they saved the day? Will they even want back in? Russia may be quite content to rule us from a throne made of stars. While we continue to chase our tails here on the third rock from the sun, our one-time nemesis is becoming king of a new hill.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Their version of Princess Leia doesn't look nearly as good in a gold bikini.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Biggest Brothers

Band of Brothers is not meant to be watched in the dark, alone. It is soul marking and its enlightenment should be realized in the shadow of tree limbs splattered with tiny lights as the snow falls outside.

Every Christmas I dust off my boxed set and pop it in. From its brilliant beginning, where David Schwimmer has his Glengarry Glen Ross moment, to the freeing of the camps, Band of Brothers delivers life lessons. It redefines friendship and family and reminds us the cost of freedom before bombs and internet warfare.

A great performance by Damien Lewis made me one of the two dozen people who faithfully watched his series Life before it got canned. Other great sightings: An unrecognizable Matthew Settle (before Gossip Girl fame) as the crazy Lt. Spiers, a premier performance by Hollywood royalty Colin Hanks as a rich West Point graduate trying to make good on the front line, ghost appearances by producer Tom Hanks as a British officer, and a very young James McAvoy as an unappreciated Replacement.

Somewhere around Christmas Eve as I wrap the last present and warm my feet by the fire, the 101st is spending their holiday dug into a trench in below-zero Bastogne, shaving with shards of ice and eating frozen bread to survive. I think how opposite those conditions are to the current warriors in the 120 degree deserts of Iraq, yet their fight is the same. The only thing that changes is the face of the enemy.

Our freedom is never really won. Like the Stanley Cup, we get to keep it for a short time until someone bigger and stronger comes along and takes it away. We will always need 19-year old boys who believe they are invincible. I think of this as I watch my nothing-scares-him baby boy sleep fitfully in his crib. Having no siblings of his own, I wonder if he will someday bond with his brothers-in-arms in a faraway land, believing that Freedom is worth it and equally convinced he will come home someday.

As I watch history unfold on my screen for the eighth year in a row, knowing most of them will be dead by the seventh hour of this miniseries, I find myself cheering, screaming, and crying anyway. I like these guys. Elizabeth Edwards said the only way a dead person lives on is through those who knew them and remember. Millions of people know these young men now.

They will truly live in infamy. And well they should.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We Text You A Merry Christmas

Whatever happened to the Christmas card? The tree trunk's worth of glittery paper adorned with Coca-Cola Santas and too many rugrats that used to line my hallway at the holidays has dieted its way to a couple of generic "Season's Greetings" and the occasional form letter from a cousin. It's not that life has become too busy for my friends and family. If anything, their full lives give them more reason to send an annual "howdy" along with an updated photo we can all hold onto in case one is abducted.

Much like its cousin the Pen Pal Letter, the Christmas Card has been made extinct by Facebook, email, and digital cameras. My faraway cousins with whom I kept up only through my parents' monthly update and once-a-decade photo now inundate my Facebook page. I not only know their kids' grades and friends, I also know their latest Sudoko score and Virtual Mayoral duties. What I don't know is their address, phone number, or what their voices sound like.

Technology has brought us closer, shrinking our globe to M&M proportions. I'll probably never see the handwriting of my nephew although I'll "see" and "hear" him through some silicone medium. But then modern penmanship is a topic best debated another time.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lucy -- one year gone

She died on Thanksgiving
She was my friend
my walking buddy
my meal companion
my foot warmer
my first baby

It was a cruel circle of life
I cleaned up after her as a puppy
and again as a senior when she couldn't hold her own
I helped her up stairs when she was too little and gangly to make it
and again when she was too old and arthritic
I crushed up her food before she had teeth
and again when they'd all fallen out

She died on Thanksgiving
and I was never more thankful

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Breakin Even

Growing up with a landscape of people as pale as the snow that capped the mountains that framed my State, I was oblivious to inner-city struggles, urban plight, and social welfare. “Gang” was just the four letter word that preceded “ly” when describing the boys in my town.

So when the single screen movie theatre – the only one in a twenty mile radius – showed Breakin’, we went in droves. Somehow I talked four different adults into taking me six times before it left town and was replaced by Karate Kid or Footloose or some other fish out of water story.

Rewatching it now with the wisdom of years, the experience of living near a big city, and the many gang articles seared into my brain, I’m as lost as I was then, just for different reasons. While I’m able to identify Adam as the flaming gay dancer friend – he just seemed unusually extravagant then – I’m unsure if gangs actually fought this way in the 80’s. Did they really dance it out, the best street corners going to the declared winner ala 8 Seconds? Or was Hollywood glossing over (or maybe oblivious to) the problem brewing right under their nose only a few miles away?

While the interracial relationships didn’t faze me – they’re just people of a slightly different color, albeit colors I hadn’t seen in person at the time – I now wonder if they were as easily accepted as the movie made them out to be. The only problem people seemed to have was “street” versus “trained” dancers. Maybe this was Hollywood’s way of slyly addressing the class differences in the hills and valleys of LaLa Land. Or maybe they just wanted to build that dance wagon everyone would soon jump on. If so, they were also early creators of the boy-girl-boy hero trio that’s still popular today (see Harry Potter).

Despite the movie not aging well (who the hell is Lucinda Dickey?), I was pleased to be able to identify Ice-T twenty five years later. He hasn’t aged a day. Now that’s some Hollywood magic.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Drunk Blog Dialing

One recent Friday night, I found myself bored with all my books, all two hundred TV channels,and every friend who might want to chat. I needed something different, unpredictable. A few years ago, I'd have hit a new club or called up my European entourage to entertain me for the evening. But since it's illegal to leave a baby unattended (go figure), I find myself at home on more weekends than not.

This is when I discovered drunk blog dialing. You don't have to actually be drunk, but it's fun to do a shot (or a sip of a shot) for every blog you like. Here's how to play. Go to a blogger site (like this one), then push the button at the top called "next blog." Blogger randomly moves you to another blog page.

For some reason, about ninety percent of them were German that night (this happens) but I did come across a few worth reading and some even worth following. Here's a highlight:

Fat Nat Sketches -- a kid with a good hand for drawing monsters.

Film Girl -- a girl with a love for old movies and the beatles. She reviews (and has great pics) of old, old movies. Very funny is the "spoiler" warnings she puts on each, as though these just came out last weekend.

Pittsbugh Daily Photo -- A nurse who went to art school in Pittsburgh and takes beautiful photos of the not-so-sh**burgh.

A Virginia Flyfishing Journal -- You don't have to like fishing or flies to enjoy the Garrison Keillor-esque writing this guy does.

Brooklyn Guy's Wine and Food Jouranl -- A great guide to local wines and food from a real person. Only slightly snobby.

I also came across some really cute family blogs, where I watched the kids grow up years in a matter of minutes of surfing. I didn't "follow" these, though, and won't mention them here. They're minors, after all, and if the kid goes missing, you know the police are coming looking for the weirdo cyberstalking them.

Next time you have a minute, click the "next blog" button a few time and see what you find. Maybe a gem.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seventy-two Tattoos

Your mad genius pierced my skin
Six dozen times
Drilling like my blood was oil

Your art is your soul
That I welcomed into my body
Like a conjoined twin

I enter your den
Drink from your well
Unbutton my heart

You ready your paints
Smile wickedly
Swab my chest

You tell me this time will hurt
The real pain comes with leaving

I only meant to get one
Then I fell in love
This time you will ask me out

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Dark Haiku

It was always dark
She dug graves in the summer
Odd for a woman

She found it peaceful
Preparing the resting place
For the dead and gone

She was no martyr
It was the least she could do
Because she'd killed them

Friday, August 21, 2009


They came with hopes of a better life, ten dollars in their pocket, and a phone card to call the only relative living in the States who might give them shelter. They left family, their homeland, the mother tongue. Their first English words were spoken when their feet touched this hallowed ground. With no land to till or crops to tend, they gladly took the jobs abandoned by the generation turning to computers and college.

Standing all day in near hundred degree heat next to machines as loud as lawnmowers, they pump out millions of items that magically appear on our store shelves, courtesy of the immigrant.

They’ll never be rich. They’ll never work in air conditioned cubicles. They know they are considered bottom of the wrung by so many Americans. But they have pride in what they do.

When “Bring Your Child to Work Day” comes around, they gather in droves, ushering their offspring to their stations, showing off their part in the assembly line of life. For some, it is the only time they’ve been known to smile.

They remember why they left and why they came.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dead Hero

As a young girl, I was probably what the adults called “boy crazy.” I’d fixate on the cutest or most charming male around, sure that he was a god never to be outdone. Inevitably, he’d do something dumb, as boys are apt to do, and my fragile bubble would burst. His beautiful image would turn to ash faster than palms on Sunday. This was the beginning of a lifelong curse of being disappointed by that unreliable gender, of looking for that crack in the armor before it collapsed on me.

There were a few who persisted in their petrified state in my mind, frozen in time, untouched by human foibles. But eventually even those cannot help but expose their weaknesses, their indignities, their intolerant corniness.

I’ll never forget the collapse of one such memory, one I held so close to my heart for so long. Before cable TV and multiplex cinemas, we were at the mercy of program planners. We watched what they fed us, over and over. And before Harry Potter and vampire lovers on HBO, we had The Dragonslayer. I was ten and Galen was every girl’s heartthrob. A head of fabulously curly hair (it was the 80s), a slight frame perfect for a young girl’s obsession, and a smile so warm it could have melted the iceberg and saved the Titanic.

Galen was my hero. He slayed the dragon, saved the town, saved the girl – the tomboy of a girl, to whom I related oh too well – and was an all around brave guy. I went through life for years looking for Galen, only to meet silly boys with no interest in being men or heroes.

Then one day in the 90s, deep into my Ally McBeal obsession of all things “I don’t need a man but I’ll take one if he’s perfect”, I stumbled across Dragonslayer on cable. My hero had returned. Seeking a two hour reprieve from the disappointment that was my life, I settled in with flannel pajamas and popcorn to remind myself what I was holding out for.

Then I saw him. Not Galen, my brave, handsome dragonslaying hero, but The Biscuit. Yep, my childhood hero was played by Peter MacNicol, now better known to me as that stuttering, oddball from Ally McBeal. I made it about twenty minutes into the movie, wincing the entire time at the sheer campiness of it all, before I threw in the towel.

Another hero bites the dust.

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Drool Me a River

Walking through "old" Vegas one beastly hot summer day (Vegas is cheaper in the summer, see, and all the west coasters stay put on the ocean cliffs, leaving the desert to the foolish east coasters), I see a sign for Deep Fried Twinkies, 99 cents. Unable to imagine anything but an immediate cardiac arrest at consuming this, I snap a picture and pass.

A couple of years later, I read about a girl who, during her lunar cycle,eats nothing but oreos fried in butter until her sanity returns. Then at the next four birthday parties and weddings I attend, marshmallows dipped in chocolate grace all the tables. My taste buds lurch in objection.

So I start wondering: What the hell is this obsession with finding the worst possible combination of fat and sugar? I'm a pretty basic chocolate type of girl. A few semi-sweet chips if I have a craving or maybe coco crisp cereal with skim milk. Like my fellow sisters, I can't deny the urges that hormones thrust upon me, but I've never sat around my kitchen, throwing things into a pan until something appeals to me.

I mean, just what was rejected if the winning result is a twinkie thrown into a vat of lard and cooked within an inch of its life?

Today, though, I might have found my new achilles heel. In an article about the best chocolates (most tastes like stale halloween candy: Nestle; most butter like: trader joe's), some kitchen wizard came up with the penultimum chocolate treat: chocolate covered bacon. My traitorous mouth immediately went into drooling overdrive. It seems to have it all: the much sought after balance between salty and sweet, crispy and soft, breakfast and desert.

So here I sit, whiling away the minutes until I can hit the grocery store to find the perfect chocolate and bacon for my concoction. No apple smoked meat for me. No ghiradelli or belgium. No, I'm pretty simple. Just give me some chocolate and salt and I'm happy. Until next month, that is.

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Friday, August 14, 2009


My native New England was home at one point to many great, famous writers. In my mind’s eye, I always pictured the pen folk functioning within a secret writer society devoid of time and mortality. Neighbors in another realm.

I wondered if JD Salinger deigned to answer the door when Robert Frost took the back road, because it was less traveled, to see him, or if Robbie had to stand outside the wall and do the one-handed silent clap to get his attention.

I wondered if Cormac McCarthy carried the fire to the Filipino themed beach party thrown by Norman Mailer and if Stephen King told the creepy campfire stories that kept them all up at night.

I wondered if they all mourned Mark Twain’s death or if they realized it was greatly exaggerated so just sent flowers.

And as John Updike sat in his Norman Rockwell painted house, stuffing his pipe with tobacco, I wonder if he realized just how famous and influential they’d all be one day.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009


Various Dr Pepper available in the USImage via Wikipedia

Today a man in Texas discovered the original secret recipe to Dr Pepper.

The browning, torn alchemy book was stuck under a crate in an antique shop, society having abandoned the expensive, time consuming tradition of using natural ingredients and manual labor.

Way back then, there was no high fructose corn syrup, liquid caffeine, or preservatives. Instead, the doctor used mandrake root, sweet flag, and syrup.

The man offered to sell the handwritten recipe to the company so they could maintain their lifeblood, their secret, but they laughed.

Nothing is as it used to be, so nothing is sacred.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Elsa hated this job.

It wasn’t too long ago that she was in the islands doing bathing suit shoots, staying in the best five star hotels, being wooed by the richest and best looking men. Now she’s in a dirtied up backlot pimping shoes for print ads and they won’t even show her face for fear of losing their younger crowd.

If someone had told her that by 30 she’d be a washed up model with no career, no savings, no friends, and no future, she would have stayed in Idaho and married Tommy Keebler and raised his babies.
Elsa’s shoulders sagged as she sighed heavily, searching her brain to find the silver lining in this stormy raincloud she called her life.

Hell, she still had great legs and after this shoot, she’d have a kickass pair of shoes, too.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Way back then
We had hope
We had dreams
Me the president
You my vice
Hillary and Bill

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


They promised to meet every year on their birthday in the spot where their birthday suits were all they wore for their first time together and every time since.

They'd met in that very spot on this beach ten years earlier, when life's currency was their innocence and when adults made the unbendable rules that they gleefully and wickedly broke.

Every summer they returned with their families then later by themselves, just the two of them.

They have no contact the rest of the year, just an annual date for a week of carnal bliss.

It was agreed they would meet no matter who was in their lives because this was separate and different, but if by chance one of them truly fell in love, they reserved the right to pull out.

This year, he didn't show up.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


By Richard Wheeler (Zephyris) 2007.Image via Wikipedia

Starla counted to six while the vapors took effect then confidently whisked past the unconscious security dwarf.

Most people were annoyed and angered that dwarves had gotten first dibs in the government's genetic lottery that duplicated their defective DNA and turned them into superhumans, but Starla knew there was more than met the eye.

She wound through the building's labyrinth that would baffle anyone else, but Starla intuitively knew where to go, having gotten a little genetic tweaking herself.

She was obviously chosen for this job for her stealth and skill and she knew the peace of the world was dependent on her finding that one person who could once again bring about unity, that one person who could make them beat their swords into plowshears.

Then she found him, packed away in all his frozen glory amongst centuries old computers and other ancient artifacts from a time when humanity measured success by its gross excess.

Starla used her pocket knife to spill her golden blood onto the security pad, punched in the 100,000-digit code she memorized, and watched the brainwaves of Ron Reagan come to life on the screen as she prepared to ask him the favor of a lifetime.

Friday, April 3, 2009


They came out of the woodwork from every corner of the earth: the Greek, Russian, Italian, Romanian, French and British businessmen, all together for the annual summit.

They had impeccable manners, dressed beautifully, gave generously to all who served them, and were fiercely competitive with each other for the attention of the lone female bartender, drowning her with compliments but all the while maintaining respect.

They were all far superior to the slacker American who tipped poorly, tracked their entitlement to free drinks, and shamelessly hit on her as she worked her twelfth hour and endured their wrath when she politely turned them down.

The Europeans were a nice change, she thought, as her hotel bar filled for the evening with the raven haired gods, all white smiles and twinkling eyes.

But as the week wore on, the testosterone became heavy and suffocating, their competitiveness shined through as an ancient hubristic practice, and their elevated standards became a bar too high to jump.

Exhausted, she yearned for the lazy, rude, cheap American male who gave little but expected just as little from her in return.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Jack sat on the fiercely guarded deck and looked out at the misty mountain range, mulli

ng over for the thousandth time the irony in the Russians being his savior whereas the Cubans were his downfall.

However indiscreet his affairs, this subterfuge was a hundred times more scandalous – if anyone ever found him.

The two countries’ partnership, long ago abandoned, was just a ruse meant to end here, with him in captivity at their beck and call.

Jack calculated the strength of the guard closest to him and realized he was too old to attempt another escape with a simple elbow to the guy’s nose.

Instead, he closed his eyes and called up the memory of kissing Marilyn, who was also secretly there with him until she died –truly died - three years ago of an aneurysm.

Reaching into his pocket, he fingered the presidential pin, the last reminder he had of who he used to be: the much loved, revered, elegant, powerful JFK.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Chuck closed his eyes, threw his head back and inhaled the heavenly scent that reminded him of home, back in Kentucky.

His nose and lungs filled with air laced with the earthy, mind boggling aroma that made his spine tingle and his brain synapses dance.

Scenes filled his head: horses racing on a muddy track in spring, old men with big glasses cheering on their bet, pretty Myrtle in her yellow sundress playing coy as he tried to kiss her behind the bleachers.

Smells could do that – bring you back to a time when life was good, before you knew better.

The squeaky back door opened and Chuck’s wife Linda glared at him, her eyes moving to his hand and what he was holding.

Sometimes I just slip, he told her unapologetically as he stubbed out the incriminating cigarette in her pot of marigolds, pausing only briefly before following her back inside.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


roses are red, violets are blue.

i hate "the man" and i know you do, too.

what's the real meaning of life?

It's just a series of seven year itch.

But it always comes full circle

Warning: Payback's a bitch

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Every holiday was special, with small gifts to represent the tradition’s heritage even if it wasn’t theirs, but this year her mother gave her a claddagh ring.

It looked expensive and old.

Sarah smiled curiously as she slipped it on and looked into her mother’s brimming eyes.

Thanks but this seems like too much, she said, we’re not even Irish.

Her mother sighed heavily, unable to meet her daughter's eyes and said, we’re not but you are.

It’s time I told you, she admitted to a stunned Sarah, that you real father is Irish, so happy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t tell your dad.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Jackie slipped into the silky white material that cost her two month’s salary and pressed a peony to her nose that was part of her bridal bouquet.

He’s late, they told her, but she wasn’t worried since he always ran late and hadn’t stood her up yet.

He’s probably picking up my wedding present, a wonderful set of pearls or maybe a diamond bracelet, something better than he got his first wife, she thought.

She smiled and peeked out at the small crowd waiting for their procession, mostly her family and friends since his had sided with his wife in the divorce.

It’s him, someone said as a phone was pressed to her ear and his silky voice came through.

She stared, stone cold, then looked at them and announced, he’s not coming because he never got divorced.


Geread was tired of faking it any longer.

For ten long years he’d pretended to be a gay ice dancer because, after all, it was just easier to be gay in that profession.

Unfortunately, his local community were having a hard time believing him ever since the looks he gave Seala, his partner, and the heat that passed between them had become so obvious to everyone that he was ready to "come out" and profess his love for her.

He kicked off his skates and changed out of his sequined competition outfit into something manly and rugged then headed for the glass elevator that would bring him to the celebration party.

Geread leaned against the glass and looked out.

In the room below, Seala leaned into Rob, laying her lips lightly on his and Geread realized he’d have to fake it a little longer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Joe watched his brother hitting on his best girl, the one he was in love with but wouldn’t date because he just couldn’t let one woman be all things to him.

That would make him dependent and if there was anything he prized, it was his freedom and independence.

She was “just a friend” but the guys all knew what that meant and stayed away from her.

What’s wrong with him, she asked, he keeps glaring at us.

Baby brother likes his bottles full and his women empty unlike me, he said, and led her out of the bar to a waiting cab.

Joe eyed up the perky blonde bartender as he downed his whiskey, thinking one night with her might be the perfect antidote to a broken heart.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Shadows of lonely pews dance like fanged monsters across the cathedral walls in the distorted light of a dying candle. A gray haired priest stoops at the church altar, his face wet with tears and sweat after hours of repeating his agonizing mantra.

“Father, help me . . . Father, forgive me . . .” Staring at the ghostly statue of a crucified Christ, he rubs his Rosary beads endlessly as blood stains his fingertips.

He knows what he did and he knows there is no redemption for it. No matter how long he prays or how much he begs, he knows he is going to hell.


She wasn’t the prettiest girl at the party – not by a long shot – but he was drawn to her just the same. Her free flowing white dress danced in the breeze, wafting its fragrance in his direction. She smelled of sunshine, lilacs, and heavily bleached linen. She reminded him of the summers he spent at the beach as a kid. He approached and stood close behind her, inhaled her scent, and watched the trickle of sweat run down her neck and pool in her bosom. He closed his eyes and knew he'd found home.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Elsa sat in the expensively decorated waiting area, flipping through a catalog of noses, vainly searching for youth. Her nose had widened and thickened through the years, as it does with everyone, the bulbous tip becoming more pronounced. Her husband said that thinning it would make her look Jewish. Elsa assumed he meant Austrian, since she didn't look the least bit German, Polish, or Israeli. Austrians have the straightest noses. As she sat later in the Hollywood eatery unable to get service, she pulled out a compact and pinched the tip of her nose, imagining what it would look like and wondering if she would get waited on faster.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Emergency RoomImage by elefanterosado via Flickr

I stared at the bright red skin on my arm as the white-hot blisters popped out, conforming to the triangular shaped mark that the iron had left hours earlier, a result of yet another careless act of mine. I lay writhing in pain on the bed, feeling the heat seeping into the rest of my body, causing spasms in my core more painful than anything I had ever felt before. Give her something for the pain, my husband had yelled to the bustling nurses, many of whom had stopped to look at the nasty flesh but none of whom seemed interested in making it better. Finally, a doctor, intense boredom kidnapping his handsome features, stopped to assess but abruptly moved on to someone more deserving of his attention. Hours of unbearable pain culminated as bags of ice melted against the hot branded flesh, offering little relief until finally the burning ceased, replaced by intense stabbing in my belly. For several minutes I was sure I would die until it magically stopped and there you were in your naked glory, all 6 lb 12 oz of you surprising us all.