26 December 2005

Too Much Opera!

Bean-Girl loves rubber monster movies. You know the kind: Godzilla, It Came from Beneath the Sea, Fiend Without a Face, that sort of thing.
So, naturally, she was over-joyed when I gave her a DVD of THEM!, a 1954 film about ants the size of a Packard sedan that infest the sewers of Los Angeles. Naturally the huge bugs are the product of radioactive fallout, are slow-moving and phony looking, and are eradicated by the Army using flame-throwers. Suspense is built by the simple device of a sort of buzzing/twitching/clicking sound every time the ants are near. A perfect entertainment, n'est-ce pas?

So, Bean-Girl and I are watching this cinematic gem, when Wife-Mate comes into the room. The ants were making their buzzing/twitching/clicking sound and Bean-Girl was very excited, "The bugs are coming! That's their leitmotif!"

31 October 2005

Haloween 2005

Wotan Clan: Mime, Wotan, Brünnhilde, and Fricka.

21 July 2005

The Savoir Vivre of American Heroes

A recent news story disclosed that the typical entering college student could not name five American heroes. Typically, those entering less selective schools had trouble naming any five notable Americans, while those entering elite schools didn’t think enough of America to say that five Americans were “heroes.” Naturally, I wanted to see the state of affairs in my own household, so at dinner that night I asked my kids to name five American heroes. I was dying with curiosity as to who they might name: Smedley Butler? Klaus Fuchs? Harry Hay? Father Coughlin? Emperor Norton? At first I was not disappointed ...

Pod-Man: Dalton Trumbo, because he broke the black list.

Bean-Girl: Mother Flynn, because she’s a mom.

Pumpkin: Lucy Parsons, because she worked for justice all her life.

Pod-Man: Colonel McCormick, because he knew how to live!

Bean-Girl: Hey, Charles Gates Dawes’ Mansion is a whole lot nicer than the Cantigny!

Pod-Man: Is not! Cantigny has that cool Art Deco bar, and that machine that makes 650 ice cubes at once, and it’s own private landing strip!

Bean-Girl: Yeah, well the Dawes Mansion is right by the lake, and it has that cool library and that glass solarium, and ...

At this point the discussion broke down into an argument about which of these reactionary, Republican millionaires had the nicer mansion, so I would count the experiment as a failure: my children could not name five American heroes.

06 April 2005

The Wrath of God

My mom and I went to this lecture last Wednesday. The Reverend Barry Lynn was speaking on the importance of the separation of church and state at Temple Shalom up on Lake Shore Drive. My mom is a big liberal and secular humanist (so she’s kind of militant about this issue) and even though I’m staunchly Catholic I don’t think state sponsorship of religious initiatives is a good idea. So, as we waited in the audience for the program to start, we introduced ourselves to the person sitting next to us and chatted for a while. This was an older lady who sort of looked and dressed like Janet Reno, Jewish (though not practicing), and very worried about the overtly Christian bias of the Bush administration.

The lecture was okay. The guy was mostly right but, unlike him, I don’t think abortion is a religious issue. So when it was over, my mother turned to the Nice Lady and said:

Mom: You know, I think that having prayers in the schools will do as much to stop delinquency as having Gideon’s Bibles in motels has done to stop adultery.

Well, the Nice Lady laughed at this, and my mother said she had to use the ladies room and would meet me later, and so I ended up walking out with the Nice Lady and talking to her.

Dutchman: You know, I wouldn’t want my mother to find out about it, but — once I was in a motel room with a woman who wasn’t my wife …

Nice Lady: Oh?

Dutchman: Yes — and before I could fall into carnal sin, I saw that Gideon’s Bible on the table next to the bed, and I picked it up …

Nice Lady:

Dutchman: Yes! And as I picked it up, the Spirit filled me and God put it on my heart to correct this fallen woman!

Nice Lady: Correct her?

Dutchman: Yes, I told her “Woman! The wrath of God has filled my heart with righteousness and has made me the instrument of his vengeance!” Whereupon I bent that sinful woman over and smote her upon the fundament with that Holy Book until she gat a great heat. And then we copulated like the dogs of Egypt!

Nice Lady: The dogs of Egypt?

Dutchman: Is it not written in the book of Strabo that the dogs of Egypt must drink quickly from the Nile?

Nice Lady: I wouldn’t know, I’ve never read the Book of Strabo …

Dutchman: Oh, there’s my mom! Remember, don’t tell her!

Nice Lady: Oh, I won’t!

04 April 2005

The Big Schmuck

I was backstage at Lyric Opera, watching Mime (Dennis Petersen) forging the sword of Sigfried in Das Rheingold, when I asked Eric (one of the stage managers):

Dutchman: Did he say “schumck?”

Eric: (Worried) I don’t think so.

(Just then, Dennis came off stage, and so I asked him.)

Dutchman: Were you singing about a schmuck?

Dennis: I was singing about a really big schmuck!

Eric: (now really worried) Oh!

Dutchman: What?

Eric: Do you know what that means?

Dutchman: In German? Yeah, schmuck means “jewel.”

Eric: Oh! Well, in Yiddish is means something else …

Dutchman: Really, what?

Eric: Just — something else.